10 Tips to Prepare Washington DC & Bethesda, MA Gardens for Fall

Dawn KruegerLandscaping

Autumn flower path

Summer will not last forever, and you will soon start experiencing crisp chill air. Before the weather sets in, it’s wise to pay special attention to your garden. If you do, you can retain the good looks of your Washington DC and Bethesda, MD garden till the end of fall. Here are 10 useful tips that you can follow to prepare your garden for fall this year.

1. Start Cleaning Up Flower Beds

Regardless of whether leaves start falling or not, start cleaning up. If it’s been a while since you paid attention, your flower beds are bound to contain dead leaves and growth from summer flowers. Rather than adding unhealthy plants to your compost heap, which may not achieve a high sufficient temperature to kill infections, remove them and throw them away. Use a 10% bleach solution to clean pruners or loppers in between cuts and then before putting them away.

Focus on weeding as well. Numerous weeds hide amid ornamentals, growing quickly when the weather becomes dry and essentially takes over if left unchecked for an extended period of time. Before the weeds flower or the roots get too big, get rid of them right away.

2. Water Plants as Needed

In the late summer, many plants, particularly those that live in dry places, are feeling their oats. At this time, keep them hydrated. Remember: Try a drip irrigation system or a soaker line since a nice soak every seven to ten days is preferable to a sprinkle every other day.

Looking for other ideas? Try drilling tiny holes inside a five-gallon plastic bucket and gently drip water into the plant’s root zone for coveted individual plants. Refill mulch and safely remove but keep a basin all around edge so that irrigation water may be directed into the root system.

3. Purchase Spring Bulbs

To get the greatest variety of spring-blooming flowers like crocus, hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips, place an order online or arrive at the nursery early. Until you’re prepared to plant, keep bulbs inside a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Animals like squirrels as well as chipmunks may pull up recently planted bulbs. Daffodils are often spared, but other bulbs could need protection. Before covering the bulbs with soil, use an animal deterrent or place a piece of chicken wire right over them. This will prevent animals from digging while enabling bulbs to sprout through the wire’s perforations.

4. Separate Overgrown Perennials

Consider separating your overgrown perennials a technique to get free flowers, rather than just a chore. Once a plant is dug out, divide it carefully into many specimens, and share with friends or replant it in new areas of your property.

How do you know when it’s time to separate perennials? Look for fewer blooms, less vitality, or barren centers that resemble doughnut holes. Those are warning indications that it’s time to split perennials. Early in the autumn, replant divisions so that roots may take root before winter. Keep the replanted perennials well-hydrated.

5. Gather Seeds

Do you have a favorite plant? Keep the seeds! Annuals that self-seed, such as cosmos, larkspur, cleome, and zinnia, will start taking care of themselves. However, preserve some seeds inside paper bags or envelopes and keep them in a cold, dry place if you wish to plant them somewhere else.

Use a Mason jar or another glass container with a sealable lid if bugs are a problem. Vegetable seeds may also be saved. Heirloom types that are open to pollination will provide offspring that resemble the parent. Since most veggies are hybrids, it’s impossible to predict what you’ll receive when you plant the seeds. But if you don’t mind taking risks, collecting and replanting seeds can be enjoyable and a great way to expand your gardens for no extra cost!

6. Begin your Fall Vegetable Crop

Cool-season plants that may be produced as an autumn harvest include radishes, spinach, beets, lettuce, and beet greens. You may also be able to plant plants like kale, carrots, and broccoli depending on where you reside and when your first autumn frost occurs. For information on when to plant seeds in your area, see the seed packages or contact your local cooperative extension.

7. Plant Shrubs and Trees

Because of the typically forecasted milder temperatures and rainfall, early fall is an excellent time to grow trees and other woody plants. Do this soon so they have time to establish themselves before the Washington DC and Bethesda, MD winter gets rolling. When digging your hole, make it almost as deep as that of the root ball, but twice as broad for the best results. If roots are looping, make four evenly spaced cuts of approximately an inch into the roots. Then, to stimulate roots to spread outward into the surrounding soil, make an “X” on the bottom of the root ball to “score” it and stimulate growth.

8. Shop for Sales on Plants 

In order to get plants off the shelf before winter, several nurseries and large box retailers offer plant sales in the late summer. If you’re prepared to wait until the next planting season to get a return on your investment, you may find some incredible bargains.

The majority of plants that are hardy in your region will recover if you transplant them now, even if they seem to be spent. Give them some time before winter to acclimate, and water them regularly until they’re established. To further keep the plants from heaving from the soil during a freeze-thaw cycle, mulch the plants just as the ground freezes. Early in the spring, take away the mulch.

9. Plant in Containers

It’s time to spruce up the summer containers for the autumn now that they’ve served their purpose. Trim back unkempt foliage, deadhead blooms, and get rid of plants that are no longer supporting themselves. Use chrysanthemums, pansies, blooming kale, decorative grass, or other autumn-themed plants as a replacement. Even garden art with an autumnal theme may be added to complete the transformation.

10. Make Notes 

Later in the growing season, many gardens seem “worn,” in part because of the summer’s heat and stress and in part because few plants are peaking. Take pictures and make note of the garden’s weak points so you can remember and make adjustments for next season.

What would be attractive there? More hues? Perhaps an evergreen? When you are aware of what is lacking, take advantage of plant sales that are finishing for the year to fill in the gaps. You may also choose what, if anything, needs to be transplanted. Plants should be moved throughout the early spring and mid-fall seasons for the best results.

Get Professional Landscaping Help

Now you know how to get your DC and Bethesda Garden ready for fall. Adhere to these tips, and you will surely fall in love with the good looks of your garden throughout fall season. However, if you are located in the Washington DC or Bethesda MD area, contact us at Rasevic to get a free consultation on YOUR gardens. We provide professional landscaping design and maintenance services to the entire Mid-Atlantic region!