10 Reasons Why Fall Is the Perfect Time for Planting Your Garden
Fall garden chores often involve getting your garden ready for winter and raking up fallen leaves. But you'll miss a perfect planting opportunity if you're only focused on leaf-removal. Cool temperatures, along with several other benefits, make autumn an ideal time to add new plants to your landscape, divide overgrown perennials, and in some regions, plant a veggie garden for fall and winter harvest. Plus, all those fallen leaves make excellent mulch for all your newly planted trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs. Look at the season in a fresh way with these top 10 reasons to plant in fall, then exchange that rake for a shovel and start digging.
1. Moderate Weather
Warm, not hot, days coupled with cool nights are the perfect forecast for establishing new plants. Spring can suddenly turn hot and dry, which often spells doom for fragile new plants. Fall weather, on the other hand, is generally more settled and more likely to stay on the cool, rainy side.
2. Fewer Pests
From hungry insects to plant diseases, fall is usually quiet on the pest-patrol front. Many common garden pests complete their above-ground life cycle in late summer, creating fewer problems for fall plantings.
3. Fewer Chores, More Time
Yes, there are leaves to rake and container gardens to empty for winter. But, unlike spring, which often has a mile-long to-do list (think lawn care, potting, seeding, soil prep, etc.), fall tends to have a much shorter chore list as plants start winding down for the winter. With more time available, planting, transplanting, and caring for new plants in fall is easier.
More time on your hands will improve survival rates, too. You're more likely to remember to water that newly-planted perennial or shrub in fall than you are in spring when you're simultaneously watering new container plantings, veggies, and annual flower beds.
4. Deals on New Plants
Garden centers and box stores often discount plants at the end of the growing season. Deep discounts could allow you to purchase twice as many plants in fall as you could with the same dollars in spring.
5. Long Growing Period
Fall planting gives perennials, trees, and shrubs several weeks of growing time before plants go dormant in winter. When above-ground stems and branches stop growing, know that the root system continues to expand. Roots are capable of growing in soil temperature as low as 45°F. Water is essential for continued growth; water plants deeply every couple of weeks until the ground freezes. Fall-planted trees, shrubs, and perennials are usually well-established by the heat of summer the following year.
6. More Time in Your Spring Garden
The more spring garden tasks you complete in fall, the more time you'll have to spend in the garden next spring. A few perennials divided in fall, along with a newly-planted shrub or tree, will give you more time for tackling other projects next spring.
7. Plant Ahead for Spring Color
Tulips, daffodils, crocus, and all kinds of other small spring-blooming bulbs need to be planted in fall before the ground freezes. Plan for weeks of colorful bouquets by planting bulbs that bloom in early, mid-, and late spring. Plant bulbs as soon as the soil begins to cool, usually in late September.
8. Extended Harvest
Cool-season crops thrive in the crisp days of autumn, and even winter in some regions. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, radishes, spinach, and lettuces all grow well in autumn. In cool regions, plant these crops by early September and provide frost protection when the temperatures dip.
9. Easy Seed Starting
Warm soil temperatures combined with adequate moisture in fall makes for fast seed germination. That's why fall is the best time to seed a new lawn, fill bare patches in an existing lawn, and even sow a meadow planting.
10. Better Recovery for Divided Perennials
Most perennials take dividing and replanting in fall with ease. Both the soil temperature and weather in fall promote good root growth as plants get established in their new planting spot. Ensure success by watering perennials deeply after transplanting and every couple of weeks until the ground freezes. Top transplants with a 6-inch layer of leaf mulch for added winter protection.