While your focus may be shifting from tending to your annuals to cozy sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes, your garden still needs some help preparing for fall! Ensuring your landscape is prepared for Bettendorf's colder weather is an essential step that helps your garden thrive during autumn's transitional period and return to its best when spring rolls back around. In this guide, we'll explore the many things you can do in your garden right now to guarantee a fall-fabulous landscape.
Fall Garden Preparation for Iowa
Let's dig into some essential chores you should be adding to your September to-do list this year:
Choose Cover Crops
Cover crops serve several essential functions that benefit your garden's health. Apart from their aesthetic value, they also help improve soil quality, prevent erosion, and suppress pesky weeds. Planting cover crops now will ensure your garden's soil remains healthy and ready for spring planting. For the fall season, consider planting some of these:
Crimson Clover: An excellent choice for fall cover cropping, crimson clover fixes nitrogen in the soil, improving its fertility for the next growing season. Additionally, its vibrant red blooms add a touch of color to your garden.
Winter Rye: Winter rye is a hardy, cold-tolerant cover crop that grows well in Bettendorf's climate. It not only prevents soil erosion but also helps break up compacted soil.
Hairy Vetch: A leguminous cover crop that enriches the soil with nitrogen, hairy vetch's purple flowers are also very attractive and beneficial for pollinators.
All cover crop seed is available through Wallace’s Special order. Cover crop seed will be delivered twice per week in fall. Check with Brandon or Kate to get your order placed.
Plant Trees, Shrubs, and Perennials
Fall is an ideal time to plant most trees, shrubs, and perennials. Most garden nurseries still have a great selection, and fall planting often means that plants are now on sale. Take advantage of end of season sales and perfect fall weather. New plants establish quickly with cooler air temperatures, warm soil, and regular rain.
Add Fall Color with Flowers
Take your color cues from nature and extend the beauty of your growing season by infusing your garden with vibrant floral displays this fall. Here are some of our favorite flowers for a seasonal burst of fall color:
Chrysanthemums (Mums): Mums are a fall favorite, and for good reason! They come in a variety of colors and bloom late into the season, providing stunning displays of color. This year, we are growing 12 thousand mums right here at our Garden Center to brighten up your outdoor areas.
Pansies: Pansies are hardy annuals that can withstand colder temperatures. Their cheerful faces bring a touch of whimsy to your garden, making them excellent cold-season additions.
Asters: Asters bloom in shades of blue, purple, and pink, adding a delightful contrast to your autumn landscape.
Ornamental Grasses: Consider planting a few ornamental grasses like miscanthus or fountain grass. Their graceful plumes and russet hues create a stunning backdrop for all your favorite fall garden activities.
Dig Up Bulbs and Tubers for Overwintering
Many gardeners grow summer-flowering bulbs and tubers such as elephant ears, caladiums, dahlias, gladioli, and cannas. However, to ensure their survival through the winter, it's crucial to dig them up before the first hard frost. Here's a step-by-step guide for overwintering your precious bulbs and tubers, ensuring you protect them from the harsh winter conditions and can enjoy their blooms again next spring:
Wait for the Right Time: Carefully dig up your bulbs and tubers after the first frost but before the ground becomes too hard. These include: dahlias, canna and calla lilies, gladiolus, and elephant ears.
Clean and Cure: Gently remove any excess soil from your bulbs and tubers, taking care not to damage them, and allow them to air dry for a few days in a cool, dry place.
Store Properly: Place the bulbs and tubers in well-labeled containers filled with dry peat moss, vermiculite, or sand. Store your containers in a cool, dark place, such as a basement or garage, until they're ready to be replanted next spring.
Winterize and Overseed the Lawn
Don’t forget a little TLC for your lawn. You may be tired of mowing all summer but your lawn needs fertilizer to help it get ready for the coming winter. Try a winterizer like Scotts Turfbuilder with Winterguard or natural and organic options like Espoma Fall Lawn Food and Milorganite. Fall is also the best time to put down grass seed. Cooler air temperatures and warm soil make for quick germination and plenty of time to get new grass established before winter.Fall isn't the end of the gardening season, but rather a thoughtful change of pace. Preparing your garden for fall is a fun way to extend your growing season and enhance the beauty of your outdoor space. If you're ready to tackle this exciting seasonal switch, come see us at Wallace's Garden Center today for great fall plants and all the garden supplies you need to get your garden ready for the slow season.