Garden Chores for September

Sedum Matrona

Sedum ‘Matrona’ is a fall bloomer that brings color to the September garden.

As August ends and fall activities gear up, it’s easy to let the garden go a bit — to weed less, forget to pick those extra large zucchini, even neglect watering. But September is a great month to enjoy the beauty you have created and get ready for next year.

Here are some chores to do to avoid the September slump:

Get rid of the dead stuff. Give your flowerbeds a good once over. Are there any plants that should be cut down now to give the garden a neater appearance? Leave standing those plants with architectural seedheads or pods that provide fall and winter interest.  While they may look a little scraggly now, you will love them when they are covered with snow.

Keep on weeding. Eric Johnson, Northern Gardener’s Sustainable Gardener columnist, noted in the September/October issue that one weed picked now is worth 10 in the spring. The weather is often pleasant in September, so take a few moments each day to wander the garden, pulling weeds.

Add something new. If you don’t have any plants that are fall stars, consider buying one or two. Grasses, asters, and shrubs with bright berries are all good additions for the fall garden and fall is a great time to plant.

Remake a pot. Don’t like the way your containers look? Rip out the spent plants and replace them with mums, asters, sedum, or another fall-bloomer—or remake a pot using vegetables from your garden, such as squash or pumpkins, as accents. Look for bargains at the nursery and add that to your pot for a few weeks, then move it out to the garden. Sometimes even re-arranging your containers can give the front porch or deck a new look.

Deadhead, please.  An all-green plant looks better than one covered with wilting or dead blooms. Ten minutes with a clipper will give your flowerbed a fresher look.

Pick your herbs. No one wants to think about the “F” word – frost, but it’s always a possibility after mid-September, so get out in your garden and harvest a few lush smelling bunches of basil, parsley, or sage. Harvesting herbs is aromatherapy for gardeners in a slump.

Plant bulbs. This is another fall chore that makes spring so much more pleasant. Think about where you wanted some color last April or May and put a few clumps of bulbs there. Here’s some advice on bulb planting.

Take care of your lawn. Fall is a good time to make sure your lawn goes into winter healthy. You can safely overseed until about mid-September. Aerating is another good early fall project, as is getting after broadleaf weeds. The University of Minnesota offers a complete list of fall lawn chores to consider.