Look to Your Tree Canopy
Autumn is when your tree just might be trying to tell you something. A healthy tree should hold a full, leafy crown. Take the time to look up and note any possible problems, such as one section of the tree dropping its leaves prematurely, which may indicate stress.
Deeply Water Newly Planted Trees
July and August are do-or-die for recently transplanted or weakened trees. Come autumn, a tree in distress will show signs of gasping for life -- leaves scorched around the edges or entirely brown, followed by early defoliation. Make sure to water deeply and moisten the entire root zone once a week.
Get Professional Help With Tree Disease and Insect Problems
Distorted or jagged leaves on trees likely indicate chewing insects, such as aphids and black vine weevils. Trees like crab apples and dogwoods tend to get foliar diseases that show up as black splotches and mushroom-like remnants of fungal fruiting bodies. If your trees or their leaves show problems, consult a professional arborist now for diagnosis.
Submit Grant Applications for Gardening Education
Teachers and administrators can take advantage of many agriculture, education, environment, technology, and youth grant opportunities nationwide. Oct. 15 is deadline for the Healthy Sprouts Award addressing nutrition and hunger; see http://www.kidsgardening.com/healthysprouts1.asp for details. Other funders are Pioneer Hi-Bred International; General Mills Foundation; Wal-Mart Foundation; Best Buy Co.; Winn-Dixie Stores Foundation; Barnes & Noble, Inc. Corporate Giving Program; Martin Marietta Materials Inc. Philanthropic Trust; Lowe's Charitable Foundation; and Home Depot Foundation.
Divide and move hostas, iris, daylilies, ferns, and spring-bloomers such as heuchera, astilbe, brunnera, and Solomon's seal. Fertilize with a slow-release, mineral-based plant food that will give plants a spring boost, not promote growth now. Be sure to mulch heavily with 3 inches of organic matter -- leaf mold, bark mulch, root mulch, compost -- to help prevent winter freeze-and-thaw damage. Keep mulch from touching the plants though; mulch plus moisture plus plant stems equals rot. So leave 2 to 3 inches between mulch and the plant it's protecting.