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September 2021: Fall into Clean-Up and Planning

by Michael Kerkes, CPH, Co-Owner of Crazy Hill Garden & Botanical, published as the column “Ramblings of a Crazy Gardener” in the North Bay Review


September brings relief from the summer heat; the cooler nights and shorter days signal change to the natural world.

September 22nd is the Fall Equinox and also the tipping point when the leaves on trees start to change color and begin the process of falling. The fruit is ripe for the picking and our gardens begin to shut down and get ready for the winter.

There are some tasks to be done in the garden that can lead to fantastic results in the following year. I am going to list 5 of what I think are the most important fall tasks in your garden.

  1. Sit back and take a look at your garden. Take stock in what worked, what plants thrived and what you enjoyed. Take note of what plants did not thrive and what you did not enjoy. Now figure our how to make the changes to those things that did not work out so well. Make a check list, and move or remove the failing plants. Fall is the best time of the year to move (transplant) plants.

  2. Move, transplant and plant! Soon the rains will come and water your babies for you.

  3. Tend to the tenders. Fall is the time to figure out which of the tender plants you will need to bring in and which you will need to protect. The hardest decision of all is who will simply be allowed to perish.

  4. Clean the beds. Fall is a great time to thin and weed beds. I like to leave a lot of the cutting back for early spring. The spent flowers become seed heads and provide a winter snack for birds and other critters. The spent plants protect the crowns from frost, that is if you don’t mind looking at them.

  5. Make the additions. Now is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, perennials and spring bulbs (which is a whole topic unto itself – we’ll talk more about that in October)

Fall is an excellent time to visit your favorite local nurseries, as many will have perennial sales going on and they will be bringing in wonderful selections of trees and shrubs. Most importantly, have fun!