Get Summering Houseplants Ready for Indoors
Houseplants that have been spending the summer outdoors will have to be brought indoors before the first frost. Get ready in advance by inspecting them for signs of insects. If any are observed, treat them with a insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, or neem spray formulated for houseplants, following manufacturer's directions.
Although peonies often thrive for years in the same location, if they are blooming sparsely the clumps may have become overcrowded. Or maybe you just want them in a new location. Dig up each plant with as many of the roots as possible, then gently hose the roots until the reddish buds, called eyes, are visible on the crown. With a sharp knife, divide, keeping three to five eyes in each section. Plant in a location with full sun and well-drained soil, setting the eyes 2 inches below the soil surface.
Make Lawn Repairs
Cooler weather with, hopefully, more rain makes this time of year good for seeding bare areas of the lawn. Choose a seed mixture that suits the location, be it sunny or shady. Loosen the soil lightly with a rake or tiller and apply the seed at the rate recommended on the package. Cover lightly with straw and keep the area watered until the seed sprouts. To give the rest of your lawn a boost, feed with a balanced lawn fertilizer.
Prepare New Beds Now for Spring
Get a head start on the busy spring season by preparing new garden areas this fall. For a new shrub or flower bed, mow the area as closely as possible, then cover the area with pieces of cardboard followed by a 6-inch layer of hardwood mulch. Use this same cardboard-and-mulch technique for creating individual spots for ornamental or fruit trees. For vegetable gardens, till the soil deeply, working in composted manure and cover with a layer of compost. This is also a good time to construct raised beds. Filled with topsoil, they'll be ready for planting with the first warm weather next spring.
Trim and Divide
Cleaning the garden is fall is a major ongoing task from now until snow flies. The heat and drought have particularly made gardens look more bedraggled than usual. Don't hesitate to cut back ragged-looking perennials. Many perennials can also be divided now and used to fill in or expand areas of the garden. This is a great time to assess what's working in the garden and what is not, then make changes this fall or develop plans for next spring.