North Texas Fall Gardening Tips
Fall is spring’s second chance to begin again, and many parts of the garden will need special attention to get them back to where they were last year. The focus should be centered on establishing plants for the cooler season, protecting them and their soil from winter’s cold, and nurturing them to prepare for new growth.
Evaluate the landscape. Prune winter-damaged deciduous shrubs and trees, as next month’s freezes will cause leaves to drop, making dead branches more difficult to locate. Trees impacted by heavy snow and ice causing branch-breaks and shrubs will all need attention. Leave spent flowering stalks and seed heads if considering the needs of wildlife for food and cover during the cold.
Plant. Fruit and shade trees, and evergreen shrubs needing replacement are great choices.
Add-in seasonal color. Winter-lasting bright color, such as that from pansies and violas, dianthus, snap dragons, cyclamen are available from local growers as temperatures cool.
Raise cool-season herbs and vegetables. With warm spring weather done, a great benefit of gardening in north Texas is being able to plant a second time with crops that can grow all winter-long. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cilantro, garlic and all manner of greens are just some of what can be transplanted or sown.
Think perennials. Favorites to establish now are the many cultivars of salvia, rudbeckia and echinacea, and these yield benefits of providing for wildlife and pollinator attraction year after year.
Check feeding needs. Look forward to a nutritional boost in January for established fruit trees, roses and other spring-flowering shrubs for their coming annual spring shows of color. Continue to mow lawns as needed as growth slows and pick up heavier leaf fall for adding to the compost pile or beds to enrich them with humus.
Consider compost. The compost pile can be harvested and many plants can take advantage of a simple half-inch of top dressing, bringing needed organic matter to the feeder roots at the top of the soil.
Make it mulch. The soil will still need to be protected from drying winds, compacting rains and the cold to come. Mulches, whether from organic materials such as bark or inorganic, like pebbles and rocks, will serve to protect the investment we make in the soil, helping it to support healthier root growth. The cooler temperatures are appreciated by the soil’s beneficial microbes, which begin to become more active during this period, acclimating new plantings, especially as they establish root growth in the ground.
For more information, visit North Haven Gardens at nhg.com. Rusty E. Allen is education & outreach coordinator, North Haven Gardens.