“Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.”–   Elizabeth Lawrence

Cooler temperatures and shorter days are our clue that autumn is here. Well, we are still awaiting those cooler temperatures typical for autumn but, the day lengths continue to shorten. We have such a narrow window when summer days meld into cooler days during the fall months. So, now is the perfect time to take care of the chores outside and get your garden ready for the colder, winter months. wind

Excellent cool-season performers for our area include pansies, snapdragons, dianthus, violas and ornamental kale and cabbages. These flowering beauties and ornate foliages can add a beautiful show of color to your landscape design and do not require a lot of maintenance.

Adding herbs to your landscape is also an excellent idea. Rosemary is a proven performer for our climate and its evergreen foliage will add beauty, texture and fragrance to your landscape. The aromatic essence that this plant emits is simply divine and you can use cuttings in your favorite recipes.

Other plants that will add fragrance and beauty to your landscape include salvias and sages. Salvias and sages, oh my! Gardening is all about the senses! Colors, smells, and textures enhance the beauty of the home landscape as well as soothe the soul.

Now is the time to begin looking for trees and shrubs that you want to add to your landscape design. Fall and early winter are the best times to incorporate new woody-stemmed plant specimens because as deciduous trees and shrubs are dormant, they can concentrate their energy on developing a healthy root system versus trying to survive if planted in the heat of our summers.

As temperatures continue to cool, visit your favorite nursery or garden center and survey those trees while the trees showcase the beautiful fall foliage colors.

Before you get those clippers and hedgers out, wait another month or so. Now is not the best time to prune! You can actually cause more damage and stress to your trees and shrubs. Let your plant use this time as there is still ample sunlight to do their best work – photosynthesis. Before deciduous trees lose their leaves, they are gathering and storing energy for next spring’s growth.

What you can do right now is take a hard look at your plants and determine what you need to prune when the time is here. Try this! Look over your trees and shrubs that you want to prune. Use paint to mark those branches that should be removed because damage has occurred or those that need to be shaped up because of the plant’s form.

As you begin to think about pruning, make sure to sanitize your pruning equipment before moving to the next plant.

Check your list and make sure you include the following as part of your “To-Do List” to make sure your garden and landscape are ready for the colder temperatures.

* As you make your final cutting of your turf area, use a mulching mower if possible. As the leaves fall from the deciduous trees, mow and mulch the leaves back into the lawn area. In addition to providing nutrients back to the soil, you also decrease the amount of lawn waste occupying our landfill.

* Clean debris from annual and perennial beds to discourage insects from over-wintering.

* Keep watering as part of your ongoing landscape maintenance.

* Put down your pre-emergent weed killer for those cool season weeds such as winter rye and henbit.

* Fertilize your deciduous and evergreen shrubs with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Don’t forget to divide those bulbs or add new varieties of bulbs to your landscape.

* Dig those Caladiums and store for next year.

* Start caring for your Christmas cactus if you want it to bloom in December.

* Take cuttings of Begonias, Geraniums and Coleus and grow as indoor house plants.

* Keep those bird feeders full and clean of debris.

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