September Tips: The Mountain West and High Plains
At higher elevations, frost already threatens. In other areas, however, the fall garden is going full-throttle.
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- For best selection, buy bulbs as soon as you see them in stores. Keep in a cool, dry place until time for planting in October.
- Apply a fertilizer and broad-leaf weed control to lawns this month. You can buy them in one formula, known as a weed-and-feed combination. Choose, if possible, one designed for fall application.
- In all but the coldest regions (Zones 5 and colder), early fall is an excellent time to plant perennials, container trees and shrubs, and roses. This month, however, it can still be hot. Do the planting on a cool, overcast, or rainy day to prevent heat stress.
Repair the Lawn -- In cooler regions (Zones 6 and colder), September also is an excellent month to reseed and repair lawns. You'll need to water as often as daily until the seed has sprouted and established. In warmer regions where daily highs are still regularly into the 80s F, wait to plant grass seed until October in warmer regions, when there are cooler temperatures and rain.
- If mature plants are flopping, tie them up or use plant supports or stakes (criss-crossed like an X with ends inserted in the soil) to keep them upright and to prevent them from smothering neighboring plants.
- Halt fertilizing of roses and perennials. It will only encourage tender new growth that will get zapped this winter.
Whack Your Weeds -- Although this time of year it's tempting to forget about weeding, keep up with it. There's an old saying about weeds that one year's seeding means seven years' weeding.
Deadheading 101 -- Even now, keep deadheading! You'll have more flowers longer, not to mention a nicer-looking garden.
- Even though grass growth has slowed, don't let it get more than 3 inches tall.
USDA Zone Maps -- In Zones 3 and colder and at high elevations, your first frost is likely to come this month. Stay tuned to the television and newspaper forecasts to find out exactly when. Prolong the growing season by throwing a sheet or other non-plastic material over your annuals and vegetables. In fact, for vegetables, you can cover them indefinitely with any other very light landscape fabric and anchor the corners with bricks or stones. It lets in sun and rain, but prevents light frosts from doing any damage.
Bird Feeding -- Fall is the time overwintering birds establish their food sources. If you haven't already, put out your bird feeding equipment.
Fall Garden Guide -- For more information, check out our fall garden guide.