Fall is for planting
By Linda Shepard
C & G Staff Writer
Autumn is one of the best times of the year to improve your landscaping.
“It is a great time to get trees, shrubs and perennials in the ground,” said Janie Saltarelli, manager of Auburn Oaks Inc. in Rochester Hills. “You don’t have to water them as much, and they will be rooted in for next spring.”
Fall planting is also more economical than spring planting. “Garden centers have things on sale; it is money-saving,” Saltarelli said. “You can plant almost any shrub or perennial in the fall.”
John Steinkopf of Steinkopf Nursery in Farmington agrees. “We do a lot of tree planting in the fall,” he said. “Fall is a great time to plant trees, shrubs or anything. They are starting to go dormant, so you’ll get a jump on the springtime.”
Although autumn often delivers plenty of rain for newly planted trees and shrubs, watering during dry spells is crucial.
“It is really important,” Steinkopf said, especially for broadleaf evergreens, such as rhododendron, azalea, holly and boxwood. “They keep their leaves, so you need to water them all the way until late fall and early winter,” he said. “Their leaf tissue is still transpiring moisture.”
Once winter is over, the first spring flowers are a welcome sight.
“Fall is the time you want to plant your spring bulbs,” Saltarelli said. “Daffodils are really easy, and they are deer-resistant. Alliums, which are big purple balls, are also deer-resistant. Keep your tulips bulbs close to the house.”
On the subject of deer, Saltarelli said fall spraying of deer repellant on evergreens like arborvitae is necessary. “Spray in the fall and through the winter,” she said. “Deer eat them when they don’t have anything else to eat.”
The majority of landscape tree and shrub pruning should be done in late winter or spring, Steinkopf said. “You do not want to regenerate new growth” by pruning in the fall, he said. Perennial plants can be trimmed or left alone.
“Perennials should be checked and can be cut down late in the fall, unless they have winter attributes,” he said. “Ornamental grasses can be left for winter interest and coneflowers have seeds for birds.”
Wrapping hedges with burlap for winter is recommended for shrubs that are in open areas and are susceptible to wind burn. “If you need to protect a plant, that is the way to do it,” he said. “If it is a protected spot, there is no reason to wrap them.”
Steinkopf recommends spraying hedges with an anti-desiccant like Wilt-Pruf. “It will lock the moisture in,” he said.
Maintaining a healthy lawn is also an autumn landscaping task. Saltarelli said the months of September and October are an important time of year for weeding and seeding. “It is better than the spring,” she said. “It gets the dandelions when they are smaller plants.”