This is my third and final summer article this year, and I am sad to say that it is time to get ready for autumn. I know I shouldn’t be sad because autumn is the time for beautiful Fall foliage, pumpkins, and cooler weather. It is the cooler weather that bums me out. I like the hot weather because I can go out in a tee shirt and shorts with sandals and be fine. Cooler weather means jeans and actual shoes. Although for me it usually just means putting on some fuzzy socks with my Crocs. Until it snows and then I can wear my boots, which is good too. Anyway, since summer is really almost over, it is time to start getting your yard ready for fall and winter.
It is still quite hot here in the Missouri Ozarks and in many parts of the country as well, so you need to keep watering those things that need water. This includes more than just your garden. Do not forget to water those shrubs, bushes, and trees. And the grass, it needs plenty of water too. Many people forget about their lawn needing water and figure the rain will take care of it. Well, there has been a drought here almost every year since we bought this house in 2012 so our grass is actually starting to feel crispy and crunchy about this time of the year. Toss a sprinkler out there in the yard for a few hours a day once a week if you have not had a regular rainfall lately. Just make sure you move the sprinkler around, so you water the whole lawn and not just one section.
End of summer clearance sales are awesome! You can go into Walmart for groceries and come out with a cart full of plants and gardening tools! Those plants that nobody wanted are going to end up in the composter if you don’t buy them, you know! Just make sure they are perennials, or you will only have them for a few days before they end up in your compost pile.
Stay on Top of the Weeding
Yeah, yeah, it is not the most exciting chore to do but just think, in a couple of months you will be wishing it was warm enough to go out and do something like weeding. And it is better to get those buggers out of there before they establish those deep roots that are so difficult to get at. You can always invite your kids or grandkids over to help you pull out those pesky plants. Just make sure they know the difference between weeds and those plants that you actually want to keep.
Harvest the Fruit
If you have any kind of fruit trees such as persimmons, pears, peaches, or apples, you need to keep picking them. If you cannot eat it all before it goes bad, find some other creative things to do with them or give them away. You can always do some canning, make applesauce or apple butter, persimmon jam, or just make pies for everyone you know. Or, what we do with our persimmons is let the deer eat them. We have deer families that come here every year to eat them right from the tree, and they bring their babies at this time of year. Precious and beautiful critters.
Keep on Mowing
Late in the summer, the grass may not be growing as much as it did during the spring, but you still need to keep it cut. Just raise the blade level on your lawnmower, so you do not cut it too short. This will protect the roots from getting too hot, so the grass does not dry out and die on you.
Do Some Deadheading
No, not the Grateful Dead! Deadheading means to remove the flowers from perennials as soon as they start to look like they are fading or dying. For many perennials, if you keep deadheading into September and even October (depending on which zone you live in), they will keep flowering until the first hard frost.
The Great Divide
After the flowers stop blooming is the perfect time to divide and cut back your perennials too. If they are getting too thick, they will start crowding themselves and will not bloom as well. Overcrowding leads to smaller blooms and less flowering, not to mention some of them can die out. Every few years you should take some of those clumped up roots out of the ground, divide them into separate root balls, and then replant them. Simple and you will have even more flowers to cut next year.
Clean and Protect
At the end of every season, you should go through your gardening tools and clean them, see which ones need replacing or fixing, and then pack them away safely in the shed or garage until next spring. Don’t worry; it’s only a few months.