It’s the time of year for pumpkin spice and sweaters. That said, it might seem counterintuitive to be planting anything with cold temps encroaching, but in reality, fall can be the perfect time to set yourself up for success in the spring. With the cooler weather and frequent rains, planting trees, shrubs, perennials, and even flowers before the ground is frozen is a proactive and therapeutic way to spend these beautiful fall days. Garden shops generally run sales and offer discounts later in the season as well, so get out your gardening gloves and prepare for one last hurrah!
Fall is a great time to divide perennials like hostas and replant them so you’ll have double the greenery come spring. Being that these seem to be especially appealing to deer, your tops may have suffered a few casualties but the roots are likely robust and ready to be split. Perennials like hydrangeas when purchased in the fall will likely be pot bound and should be roughed up before planting. Separate the roots, shake off any excess dirt, and plant at soil level. Cover with around 2 inches of mulch but avoid mulching at the base of the plant near the stem. Water frequently and feel good knowing that with a little autumn diligence, you will have lovely new blooms come spring. The case is the same with trees. Before digging, check with your utility company to ensure you’re doing so safely. Once the tree is in, root development will start immediately and continue until the ground freezes. Planting in the fall gives perennials and trees the added advantage of making it through a MN winter and they will no doubt be all the heartier for it!
Being that spring-blooming bulbs like hyacinths and tulips require a period of cold to bloom, getting them into the ground now is truly the ideal time. Small animals do tend to like to dig them up as they are preparing for winter themselves, so a barrier between your bulbs and them is a good idea. Chicken wire placed over the top of your bed and then staked down is one way to combat these persistent critters. There are also wire cages available online or at garden stores that can be buried with your bulbs tucked safely inside. Adding a thick layer of mulch is the final touch to help your plants winter the fluctuation in temperatures that the changing of the seasons brings.
So yes, winter is on its way, but don’t despair! There are many reasons to put on your sweater, get things planted, and then enjoy that pumpkin spice latte.