Early fall is the best time for planting many things in your landscape. From trees to shrubs to grass, the falls’ moderate day temperatures and cool nights are perfect to plant and get a head start before the long winter. Landscape planted in the fall will be established and will take off in the spring. Trimming needs to be done soon so any new growth has time to harden off before freezing temperatures.
For trees and shrubs this is also the time to find bargains at the garden center. Most places want to clear out as much inventory as possible and will often have products reduced 40% or more. Don’t worry too much about how beautiful a tree or shrub may be. Check that the root ball looks healthy, and the growing points are undamaged. Plant according to instructions and make sure to water thoroughly weekly until the ground freezes. Lay an open house a foot away from the trunk and water for at least two hours. This is good for established trees and shrubs too because it gives them a good amount of water before the ground freezes.
Fall weather is also best for growing grass. Lawns stress out in hot weather, so fall is a good time to replenish grass depleted in the hot summer. Choose grass seed according to the sun exposure. Kentucky Blue Grass is preferable, but you need a minimum of 6 hours of sun per day. If your yard is mostly shady use a mixture made for shade. Throw the seed out in a sweeping motion. Put out more than you think as our bird friends will consume at least 25%. Keep moist, sprinkling daily till it germinates, between 7-14 days. Then water weekly till the ground freezes. We usually get enough rain in the fall but not always. You should also pay attention under trees where it often stays dryer even in relevant downpours. Augment as needed.
Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago