The 1993 gardeningseason has been frustrating for many home gardeners. Manygardeners have simply been unable to do much yard work because ofthe nearly constant rain. However, the 1993 gardening season isfar from over. Much can still be accomplished over the nextseveral weeks. Late summer and early fall is an excellent time toseed lawns and plant trees, shrubs, spring-flowering bulbs, andperennials.
Seeding of new lawns may be done from mid-August to mid-September.Late summer or early fall planting has severaladvantages over spring seeding. Cool-season grasses germinatequickly in the warm soil of late summer. The warm fall days andcool nights promote rapid turf growth. There will also be less competition from weeds as few weed seeds germinate in the fall.
Trees and Shrubs
Late summer and fall is an excellent time to plant balled andburlapped and container-grown trees and shrubs. Evergreens shouldbe planted from mid-August through September. Planting evergreensduring this period allows their root systems to become wellestablished before the onset of winter. Evergreens planted in latefall (October and November) may not survive the winter. Deciduoustrees and shrubs have a longer planting season. Deciduous treesand shrubs can be planted from mid-August through October.
While many trees and shrubs do well when planted in latesummer and fall, oaks, birches, magnolias, and firs establish newroots slowly and should only be planted in the spring.
The best time to plant spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips,daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses, is September and October.However, if weather permits and the soil remains unfrozen mostspring-flowering bulbs can be planted as late as December.
Many perennials may also be planted in late summer and earlyfall. This period is also a good time to move or divideperennials, such as peony, yarrow, columbine, daylily, purpleloosestrife, garden phlox, and others. Apply a 2 to 3 inch layerof straw mulch to newly planted perennials in late fall. Mulchinghelps conserve soil moisture and prevent alternate freezing andthawing of the soil that could damage the plants.
For many Iowans, the 1993 gardening season has been a majordisappointment. Yet much can still be accomplished with hard work,a little luck, and good late summer/early fall weather.
This article originally appeared in the August 11, 1993 issue, p. 135.