10 Things to Do Soon

There are plenty of options and opportunities for gardeners this time of year. Here, as a quick checklist, are some of the most critical.

• Dig and divide spring-flowering perennials, including violets, oxalis, iris, daylilies, Shasta daises, coneflowers and hardy amaryllis.

• Plant cool-season annuals, such as pansies, pinks, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and kale, and others.

• Keep mowing right up until frost. Letting grass grow taller does not increase its winter durability. Tall grass actually becomes weak grass.

• Keep fallen leaves off your lawn. They compact, trapping moisture underneath. Turf diseases love those conditions. Either bag or rake them. Use them in the compost pile. Do not send them to the landfill.

• Remove dead or damaged branches from trees before the trees lose their leaves. That way you can distinguish them from healthy limbs.

• Apply glyphosate herbicide to lawn areas where you want to develop a new garden plot late this winter. You must spray before grass and weeds go dormant for winter, or you’ll have to wait until April.

• Root-prune established trees and shrubs you intend to transplant this winter. Cut around the plant at the location where the final digging will be done. The severed roots will send out new roots, and they will hold the soil ball together more firmly.

• Clean and oil hand tools when you have finished using them for the season. Take power equipment in for repairs.

• Prepare houseplants for move indoors for the winter. Gradually acclimate them to darker conditions by cutting back on the water and nutrition you give them.

• Buy quality bulbs from independent retail garden centers – where you can talk to the experts. Remember that tulips and Dutch hyacinths must be given artificial "chilling." Put them into the vegetable bin of your refrigerator for at least 45 days at 45 degrees. Daffodils and grape hyacinths can be planted as soon as you buy them.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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