Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
October, 2006
Regional Report

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The rich colors of autumn are spectacular this year.

Enjoying the Beauty of Autumn

Summer is a time to keep the garden growing -- watering, weeding, fertilizing, and doing other tasks that keep the landscape looking good. Now is the time to stop and enjoy the colorful beauty as it unfolds in your trees and shrubs. Days are getting shorter, and night temperatures are beginning to get cooler. The landscape is making preparations for a long winter's rest.

Before the garden is devoid of foliage and flowers, stop and listen to your yard and garden. Plants can tell you a lot at the end of a growing season. They will show signs of how good the year has been, or maybe how dry it has been. Signs of insect and disease damage may be more apparent. Plant growth may have become too aggressive, and some things may have grown out of bounds. This is the time to plan for an even better garden next year.

Garden Checklist
With notebook and pencil in hand, get outdoors and jot down which plants are doing well in their respective sites. It's a good way to update your landscape plan, noting what's new and which plants you have removed. Identify plants that may be outgrowing their space and need to be divided or removed.

Be on patrol for invading weeds. A weedy area can quickly get out of hand and spread more invaders next growing season. Pull or dig weeds before the seed heads mature.

Mulched areas may need attention now. As mulch settles and wind moves some of it around, now is the time to add mulch to areas that are becoming devoid of shredded cedar, bark chips, gravel, and other mulching materials. Mulch not only suppresses weed growth, it also helps retain soil moisture and prevent the heaving of perennials that often occurs with the alternate freezing and thawing of the soil.

Take time not only to enjoy the beauty of your plants, but also to check their overall health. Look for signs of diseases and pest invasions. It may be necessary to pick up fallen diseased leaves and send them off to burn or dispose of them so they won't lie dormant only to infect plants next year.

Be sure to keep your pruning tools sharp and clean. It really does make a difference. Disinfect pruners and saws with a spray disinfectant or rubbing alcohol when cutting away diseased stems or branches.

Mild fall weather is fleeting. Take time to enjoy it, to walk and play on the lawn, and if you're up to it, climb a tree.

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