General: Fall is for fertilizing and refreshing. Fertilize shrubs and trees with winter fertilizer formulas. These will have a low first number and higher middle and last numbers to strengthen roots and overall vitality. Work well-aged compost and manures into beds to refresh the soil. This is also a great month to clean your roof and gutters from needles and leaf debris.
Of course, there are a few specific reminders…
Houseplants: Bring the outdoor houseplants back into the house, but don’t bring in the pests. Wash thoroughly with warm soapy water and drench with an all-purpose houseplant bug spray. Your indoor plants will also benefit from a bath. Proper application of fertilizer goes a long way to greening a plant for its indoor winter.
Lawn: Great time to reseed bare patches, renovate or plant new lawns. Also, consider erosion control needs, especially if you removed hillside weeds this summer. Wildflowers, clover, and creeping red fescue are good groundcovers. Loosen 2 inches of soil, add some compost or topsoil, broadcast, rake to cover and smooth. If rains are insufficient, be sure to water. For lawns, apply pre-emergent weed control. Use a broadleaf weed preventer to reduce weed issues next year.
Fruit Trees: If temperatures are still moderate, this is a perfect time to plant more fruit trees. Determine the size of space available and purchase and plant. Dwarf and semi-dwarf sized trees allow the average sized yard to grow a variety of fruits. Fertilize established fruit trees with a well-balanced fertilizer.
Vegetables: Plant cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, radishes and other winter vegetables. Plant onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots when the temperatures cool.
Flowerbeds: Many cooler season annuals brighten the winter. Think pansies, sweet peas, calendulas, snapdragons, stock, violas, primroses, cyclamen, and chrysanthemums, among others. Don’t forget biennials and perennials! For less formal settings, broadcast wildflower seeds such as Clarkia, alyssum, Bachelor Buttons and our state flower, California poppy.
Bulbs: Don’t let next spring be like last spring, when you wished you had planted more bulbs the previous fall. Many varieties of daffodils, ranunculus and anemones are ready to plant now. Choose tulips now and refrigerate until November planting.