In many parts of the country, fall is just as good a time, maybe even better, to do serious planting. That is especially true of trees and shrubs, as it gives them time to grow a good root system over the winter months, without having to worry about keeping leaves going, too.
In any area of the country you can plant until the ground freezes hard. Now, I would recommend you know when the average first frost date is for your area, and plan to finish up around that time. If you know your area really well, have lived there for a number of years and have paid attention to the weather patterns, then you can probably stretch it some or even a lot. However, if you’re a relative newbie to the gardening realm, then plan on calling it a season around the average first frost date.
In some parts of the country, here for instance, fall is really the time to plant a lawn. This confuses a lot of people, as when they think “seeds,” they think spring. However, the grass will come up, have time to put down enough roots to keep it going, then when the cold hits it no longer needs to grow up, so it grows out, with nice long strong roots that will help it be strong and green, able to withstand weeds attacks, in the spring. Timing is important with this, as you need to make sure you get the grass far enough along that it can withstand the winter, and, unfortunately, every once in awhile you’ll have a really nasty winter and it just won’t take, but that’s rare.
Most perennials plant well in the fall, too. You can buy small plants, pint size, and put them in. Over the winter they’ll put out roots and the next spring you’ll have as big a plant as if you had bought the gallon one to begin with. Just remember to look at the mature size of the perennial so you don’t crowd them too close. It sometimes takes a lot of faith to believe that tiny little plant is going to cover the large area you’re leaving for it, but most grow really fast.
If you live in a milder climate you can do a winter vegetable garden. Most of the cole crops will make it well into the late fall or early winter, in some areas, with just a little bit of protection, they’ll go all the way until the warm weather hits in the spring. I’ve gone out on Christmas day to harvest chard and kale for our holiday meal. I think last year we even had some lettuce still going, but that’s rare. We had an extremely mild winter last year.
So, don’t dismay, if you’re landscape plans aren’t as far along as you’d like, you may have another three to four months of planting, if you’re in the right zone.
When was the latest or earliest you’ve planted something and had it survive? Mine was a clematis that I bought way too early. I planted it in February. I’ll have to share the whole story in my next blog…