September 11, 2012
By Denis Flanagan
After this record-breaking hot summer, many garden spaces are looking a little worse for wear, so now is the perfect time to liven things up so that you can enjoy sitting outside and bask in the beautiful days of autumn.
Veg and herb plots If you were one of the fortunate ones that grew some of your own food this year, this is the time to harvest the last of the crops.
Pick veggies before they get hit by frost and if you cannot use them all now, consider canning or preserving fruit and herbs so that you have a source of locally grown nutritious food in the winter months. Late September to early October is the ideal time to prepare the soil in vegetable gardens and containers for next year’s planting. Use a garden fork to turn and aerate the soil to a depth of eight to 12 inches, and then add a generous amount of bagged manure from your local garden centre. The frost during the winter months will continue to break up the soil naturally creating the perfect soil for spring planting.
Flower containers. Particularly after this very hot summer, many annual plants in containers and window boxes are looking a little tired and stretched, remove
the plants and compost them, then create a new fall-time colour display with flowering mums, asters, kale and ornamental grasses. Complete the look and celebrate the season by adding mini pumpkins and gourds to the mix.
Green Green grass of home. This is the title of an old song, and unfortunately we have not had much to sing about with our lawns this year — in fact, many look like they have been in a bad accident—with holes, brown spots and badly damaged areas. The good news is that it’s the perfect time to do the repair work.
Here are five easy steps:
1. Aerate your lawn by creating a series of small plug holes on the surface. If you rent a machine or hire a company to aerate your lawn, this will ensure that the next steps are more effective.
2. Feed it with a granular fall fertilizer specifically designed to strengthen the grass before the winter months.
3. Topdress the entire area by spreading a 1/4-inch layer of a light soil mix and/or compost — this will even out the small humps, add nutrition and help with germination of the seed.
4. Overseed with a top quality grass seed mix as this will thicken the lawn. A healthy, tightly grown sod is the best way to stop weed seeds from being able to germinate and take over your grass.
5. For the previous steps to be effective, keep your lawn evenly watered with an overhead sprinkler for approximately one hour a day for 10 to 12 days.
Increase the tree canopy. Think about honouring the fact that we now have a National Tree Planting Day that takes place on September 26. Add a new tree to your garden or get involved with a local school or community group to improve our green spaces.
Plan for next year. Take the time this fall to review your overall garden. Take pictures and make notes, then some time over the winter, sit down with a trained designer/consultant and plan how to optimize your green investment for next year.
For further gardening information or to contact a professional, visit www.landscapeontario.com
After graduating from Horticulture in Surrey, England, Denis worked on some projects for the Royal Family and achieved a Gold Medal at The Chelsea Flower Show.
In Canada, Denis continues designing award-winning gardens for Canada Blooms and has taught at several community colleges including Humber and Seneca.
He is well known for his Gardening shows on HGTV and continues to promote the joys and benefits of horticulture through the “Green for Life” program for Landscape Ontario. landscapeontario.com
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