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Garden tips as seasons change

POSTED: September 21, 2011 4:00 a.m.

Fall begins in the Northern Hemisphere on Friday. So, what does this date mean as it relates to your landscape? Not much.

Fall, however, is a time of change from hot days of summer to cold days of winter.

For plants in your landscape, fall is a time of change. Some plants start the process of becoming dormant.

Fall should also be a busy time for gardeners and landscapers.

The following are suggestions of fall landscape jobs that will not only help plants make it past winter, but do well next summer:

Fall is a great time to divide perennials and shrubs for next year's garden. By planting in the fall, your plants do not endure the stressful summer heat during establishment and have time to form sufficient root systems before the onset of winter dormancy.

Clean up fallen rose leaves. They can harbor disease and insect pests over the winter if allowed to remain on the ground.

If you wish to kill grass and weeds growing through cracks in patios, garden walks or driveways, be extremely cautious. Many weed killers will leach into surrounding areas and damage ornamentals or lawn. Pulling the weeds is the safest action, but you may wish to use a contact herbicide such as those containing glyphosate.

Every weed that ripens seed means more trouble next year. Control weeds before they go to seed. Do not add weeds with ripened seed heads to the compost pile. Many weed seeds remain viable and germinate next year when the compost is used.

Water shrubs deeply once a week. Many plants, including camellias and rhododendron, are starting buds for next season's bloom at this time.

In Georgia, spring flowering bulbs can be planted from October through late December in most areas. If you cannot plant the bulbs right away, store them at around 60-65 degrees in a dry area.

Temperatures above 70 degrees may damage the flower buds. Most spring flowering bulbs require a 12-16 week cold period in ventilated packages in the bottom of your refrigerator at 40-50 degrees before planting.

Mulch around landscape plants.

Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.

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