Know Your Hydrangea Before Pruning
Before you begin pruning your hydrangeas, it's important to know what kind you have. Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla, also called mopheads and usually pink or blue) as well as oakleaf varieties (H. quercifolia) bloom on old wood and should be pruned immediately after flowering so they have time to set buds. Avoid pruning after August. Panicle hydrangeas (H. arborescens and H. paniculata, such as PeeGee and 'Limelight') bloom on new wood so they can be pruned hard in late winter.
It's Planting Season
Although you may think the gardening season is winding down, it's also gearing up. Fall is a good time to plant many perennials, trees, and shrubs. Air temperatures are cooling so there's less stress on plants, yet the soil will remain warm into late fall -- perfect for developing roots. Fall is also a good time to divide many perennials.
Save Those Leaves
There's a hint of fall in the air. Experts are predicting an early and short foliage season due to the hot, dry weather we've had. So get ready to start gathering leaves! You can simply spread them on garden beds but they're apt to blow away. A better idea is to shred them with your lawn mower, then spread them. Or add them to your compost pile. Fallen leaves are full of the nutrients plants will need next spring.
Plant Berry-Bearing Shrubs
Varieties of holly, viburnum, and cotoneaster produce berries in fall, adding a splash of color as the leaves begin drop off. The berries will also entice a variety of birds to visit your yard. Consider them nature's bird feeders and add a few to your landscape!
It will soon be time to replant containers with cool-season flowers. Pansies, violas, snapdragons, and diascia are good choices. And there's a reason mums are so popular -- they provide lots of color. Combine them with other plants to soften the look.