Add Fall Color
Garden centers are already filled with mums, asters, sedums, and ornamental kales and cabbages for sale. Adding these to strategic spots in the garden now, replacing bedraggled annuals, will make your yard feel fresh and colorful until frost. Add them to container plantings, along paths and steps, and near doors. Some of these plants will survive the winter, but, basically, they are treated as annuals.
Divide Daylilies and Iris
This is a great time of year to divide and replant daylilies and iris, increasing the colorful impact they bring to the garden. For iris, pry up the clump with a garden fork, cut the foliage to 6 inches, and pull apart the rhizomes. Replant with the rhizomes just barely below the soil surface. For daylilies, dig the clumps and either cut the clump apart with a knife or soak the roots in water so that the individual growths can be separated easily. Trim the foliage back to 4 inches and replant immediately so the roots do not dry out.
Repair the Lawn
Late summer and early fall is the ideal time for repairing areas of the lawn that has become thin or weedy. One option is to lay turf grass sod. First, remove rocks, weeds, and roots, then till lightly to loosen the soil. Work in some fertilizer and rake the area smooth. Lay the sod and water well. For seeding an area, prepare the soil as for laying sod, then, either by hand or with a mechanical seeder, broadcast the seed. Be sure to choose a seed blend that is best for your site. Lightly mulch with straw and keep evenly moist until seeds germinate. Another way to improve the lawn is to fertilize now.
Get a Jumpstart on a New Garden Area
Remember how crazy it can get in the garden in spring? Get a jumpstart by preparing now for any new beds you have planned. Lay out the new area, till in several inches of compost, and apply 4 to 6 inches of an organic mulch. If desired, add some extra protection against weed growth by laying layers of cardboard beneath the mulch. Now, when you see all those wonderful plants at garden centers next spring, you'll be ready to plant!
Seeing crocus, iris, snowdrops, and other flowers emerge through snow or frozen ground is among the best of garden pleasures, while the brilliant colors of daffodils and tulips, to say nothing of the sweet scent of hyacinths, only heightens the joys of spring. Now is the time to make that happen. You might still be able to mail-order spring-blooming bulbs, and they are certainly available locally at garden centers. Get them now, then start planting the earliest blooming ones toward the end of September. Be sure to include some of the more unusual ones, like fritillaries, camassia, and the various alliums.