Generously Water Trees and Shrubs
Your trees and shrubs are big, living, thirsty investments. If you haven't been watering them regularly through the summer, start today. Place a slow-dripping hose, hose bubbler, or gentle flow watering wand on the soil a foot or two from the tree or shrub base. Allow water to soak, really saturate, the entire area under the tree and shrub leaves. That could be 15 minutes or 30 minutes. Move the hose if need be to soak all soil and roots under the tree. Do this once or twice weekly till a hard freeze, if possible. Any watering is better than none, though.
Define Garden Bed for Fall Planting
As the weather cools, making gardening more comfortable, we're starting new garden beds. I lay out garden hoses on the ground and move them around till we get the shape and size garden bed we want. Then we cut an edge either inside or outside the hose. Or I'll spray red or pink paint beside the hose to mark the edge for cutting later.
Remove Grass for New Garden
For new bed preparation, we cut the bed edge then lift grass from the bed-to-be. The sharp, flat-edged spade with a serrated metal edge is the tool everyone reaches for first. We slide the blade under the grass an inch or two, starting from the cut edge. Sometimes the grass lifts easily and intact, making rolls we can put down in bare spots in the lawn. Other times the soil's hard with grass and weeds. That's difficult to dig, so we do a little at a time, tossing weeds in brown paper bags for lawn debris pick up. We pile grassy pieces to dry out for the compost bin.
Plant Butterfly Favorites
Besides planting milkweed for monarch butterfly larvae to eat, add spicebush for the spicebush swallowtail, pawpaw tree for the zebra swallowtail; fennel for the cloudless sulphur butterfly, and the hop tree for the giant swallowtail.
Cut Decorative Seedpods and Ornamental Grasses
Save the echinacea, allium, and black-eyed Susan seed heads for flower arrangements. Clip and use blades of red blood grass, fluffy-tailed fountain grass, blue-purple switch grass, and red-orange Japanese silver grass for their unusual textures and colors.