Sunday, September 12, 2010

Top Ten Outdoor Gardening Tips for Fall

Your garden should be a relaxing, enjoyable place to be in every season. Keeping your outdoor space inviting is easy with these tips for yards and water gardens in the fall.

1. Keep the water in your outdoor fountain or garden pond free of fallen leaves. Not only can leaves and other fallen organic matter decompose in your pond and cause problems with bacteria and algae, they can also clog your pump. Skim leaves off the surface daily and be sure to use an algaecide made for fountain such as No More Algae for Fountains (found at SpecialtyLiving.com).

2. Clean your fountain pump before emptying the water for the winter. This will ensure that any debris inside the pump won’t be left to dry up and clog the inner workings once you’ve emptied the water from your fountain. Remove the cover and pull out anything that may have accumulated inside.

3. Protect your fountain from cracks due to the expansion and contraction of water as it freezes and thaws. Purchase a fountain cover in the appropriate size and cover the fountain from the top to the bottom of the basin (pedestals don’t need to be covered). This will keep precipitation from falling into the basins and causing damage.

4. Prepare your water garden for the upcoming freeze by sinking all hardy perennial aquatics to the deepest area of the pond. This will keep them in the warmest water available and allow them to go dormant for the winter without sustaining damage.

5. If your pond is too shallow to sink your plants over the winter, consider purchasing a de-icer. De-icers heat a small opening in the top of your pond where it would normally freeze over, allowing the release of toxic gases from decomposing organic matter to escape and also oxygenating the water.

6. If you supplement your landscaping or water garden with tropical plants, it’s best to remove them for the winter unless you live in a mild climate. They won’t survive the cold weather, and as they decay they can cause damage to other plants around them. It’s recommended to treat them as annuals and purchase new ones each spring.

7. Don’t cut your perennials down over the winter – leave them standing so they can provide resources for birds. Many plants have attractive foliage and seed pods that offer both food and shelter during the snowy months when both can be difficult for birds to find. Birds need water, also – use a plastic container and replace the water frequently.

8. Mulch around perennials and well-established plants to maintain a uniform soil temperature and add a few extra weeks to the root development of newly planted shrubs and trees.

9. Give your garden a good fall cleanup to prevent disease and insect problems next year. Canker, mildew, fungi and other problem spots in your yard can spread to other plant life if the rotting plant matter is allowed to linger and be spread around by wind and water. Prune dead branches, gather fallen leaves and collect yard waste piles and either burn, bury or compost.

10. Plant spring bulbs in October. Planting tulip, crocus, daffodils and other flower bulbs at this time will give the roots time to get established before warm weather rolls back around. Prepare the soil to ensure that it has good drainage. Soil fertility is also important – work a complete commercial fertilizer into the upper 4 to 6 inches of soil. The depth of the soil above the bulb should be approximately twice the diameter of the bulb.

About The Author
Stephanie Gottschalk writes the blogs 'Picnic Fun - Tips and Recipes' (http://www.picnictips.com) and 'The Joy of Water Fountains' (http://www.waterfountainguide.com) for Specialty Living Inc., an Asheville, North Carolina-based company that aims to share their love of people, nature and life through high quality water fountains, picnic baskets and outdoor living products.

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