A GROWING CONCERN: Jobs abound in the yard as autumn takes over

AS THE EARTH slowly continues its tilt away from the sun for us living here on the northern hemisphere of the planet, a cooling of the air, a shortening of the days with wet, windy weather becoming a norm, leaves blowing around the yard — all these new characteristics mark our days.

And with this new weather pattern, in comes autumn.

List of jobs

Plant that fall blaze of color. It is all around you — look at those blazing colors with nurseries in full fall pageantry.

Plant all woody items. Transplant roses, dig in a new fruit tree, plant a hedgerow or gorgeous colored evergreen.

Fall fertilizers

A wonderful thing going to happen as mother nature saturates your soils for several months, so let’s take advantage and realize your perennials are very active for the next few months.

Be it root production, making buds, or producing new fruit spurs your plants are producing next year’s results so feed them and feed them well. Look for specific fertilizers to your type of plant (evergreen, rhododendron) and get a fall blend that is lower in nitrogen. Do not use what you had for spring, because we do not want growth on the plant, we are storing fuel for the winter ahead.

If you haven’t already, get your bone meal down, too.

Slug control

They’re driving you crazy, when you come home and the light is low and while you take out the dog — there you see them, freely roaming around your yard, slimy, hungry and damaging slugs. Either put out pet friendly slug bait or get the flashlight and snippers and decrease their numbers today.

Rake, baby rake

Wet, cold, dead leaves rot away quickly atop your plants, even grass, killing or severely damaging bushes, trees, shrubs and especially perennials and ground covers.

Stay vigilant, removing wet fallen leaves from your fine ornamentals — but do not do the “full pull-out” yet. Just take away those leaves that are rotten, by having your bucket, hand rake, pruners and dry gloves handy for the cruising removal in the weeks ahead.

Cut back gradually

As your perennials die back, cut them back, remembering that it is nature and we want frost to take the last of the foliage gradually.

Otherwise if you to the total cleanup, this premature prune will act as a stimulating prune or pinch and encourage the plant to regrow.

We do not want fresh growth. Our plant wants a gradual frost — remember it is about the plant not about your timing to get it done.

Edge, cultivate and mulch. It is all about the soil, baby.

With your nutrients being laid down all over the yard and weeds popping up like mad, cultivate these items into the soil.

Make sure to redefine your borders because the grass is viciously assaulting these fronts, having moved into a boundary while you were cutting back your annuals this summer. Clip, hand-trowel and flat-shovel the border edges back, then apply a nice organic mulch over the top to protect against the loss of topsoil by winter rains and wind.

Your plants will love an organic layer of protection and this nutrient blanket.

Overseed the lawn

A great professional trick is to overseed your lawn with a top quality, less than 1 percent weed seed label, with a rye fescue blend of seed. Oh what a difference an overseeding makes.

If you haven’t found it already, the Peninsula Daily News keeps my articles online so you can go back and look at past articles, taking electronic lists with you shopping or to look over while you’re in the mood at peninsuladailynews.com.

If you haven’t already, the pumpkins, asters and straw bales are available to dress your front porch for the Halloween characters soon to land on your doorstep.


Andrew May is an ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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