Mid-Atlantic

September, 2004
Regional Report

Don\'t Overwater

If you added or transplanted plants in your landscape this fall, take care to monitor their water needs. Most plants need an evenly moist soil while becoming established. This means damp like a wrung-out sponge, not bone dry and not sopping wet. Check the soil with your finger to see if you need to water; with seasonal fall rain, you may not need to supplement.

Spread Organic Mulch

Organic mulch breaks down over time and helps feed the soil. Select mulch materials depending on their local availability, cost, and/or appearance. For example, shred autumn leaves for use as mulch now or compost them into leaf mold for later use. Or purchase a variety of natural mulch materials, such as shredded or chipped bark or baled straw.

Pinch to Avoid Lanky Asters

Newly purchased asters tend to be short and mounded, while second-year plants naturally tend to grow much taller and can be leggy. Keep this in mind when you locate them in the garden, and, next spring and summer prune them back once or twice to help keep them shorter and bushier.

Food for Songbirds

Migrating songbirds will appreciate the opportunity to stop and refuel on berries in the landscape. Dogwoods, staghorn sumac, spicebush, aronia, hollies, viburnums, Eastern red cedar, and Virginia creeper can help set out the welcome mat.

Winding Down Your Fall Planting Schedule

As the season winds down, so should planting. Roots grow until the soil temperature drops, so finish planting about six to eight weeks before the ground is expected to freeze in your area. Smaller plants with their shallow root systems are the most vulnerable to freeze and thaw damage during winter.

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