What you should know about prepping your yard for fall

The first day of fall officially starts Sept. 23

Image of female farmer sowing seed of squash in the garden (Courtesy of Storyblocks)

ORLANDO, Fl. – As we enjoy the last week of summer, the cooler weather will be knocking on our door shortly in Central Florida. Fall officially begins on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 2:50 a.m. EDT.

Most plants become overgrown by the end of summer, so it’s time to step back and analyze what you’ve got going on in your garden to set yourself up for a successful spring season.

Have you ever heard of deadheading? The term “deadheading” refers to the act of removing flowers from a plant. In most instances, these blooms are ones that have started to age and are no longer considered to be attractive.

Now the big question is does deadheading actually allow more flowers to bloom? Generally, yes! Most annuals and many perennials will continue to bloom throughout the growing season if they are regularly deadheaded. It’s usually done to maintain and improve a plant’s performance.

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Removing flower heads, your garden will begin to look better and the plants will be ready for overwintering. Perennials flourish during the summer months so start getting into the habit of pruning and cutting back during the fall season. This rule of thumb could lead to more blooms when spring arrives. It’s important to note that some plants prefer pruning during the spring season.

Don’t forget about your lawn! Fall lawn care is often overlooked when the weather begins to cool. As the leaves begin to fall, a layer of colorful autumn leaves may look nice but they’re no good for the grass. They trap moisture and block sunlight.

So when the leaves are falling, blow or rake them away as much as you can. If you don’t, when spring arrives, most likely the grass under the leaves would not have survived.

Continue to water as the weather gets cooler. While there’s usually more rain and dew, less evaporation during the cooler months is expected due to cooler temperatures and lower levels of solar radiation, resulting in less energy for evaporation which may not be enough to keep grass roots hydrated.

Fall is also the ideal time to seed a variety of plants, including grass. Cooler weather means seedlings are less affected by heat but the soil usually is still warm enough for maximum root development.

Although September is the best time to seed, you can still plant grass seed up to mid-October with decent results. The issue with late-season seeding is that days with less sunlight and cooler temperatures will prolong the germination phase of seeds.

Keep in mind that cool-season lawns will need an application of high-nitrogen fertilizers during the fall and spring seasons.

Be sure to also loosen the soil every couple of years. A thick layer of compacted roots, stems and debris could block water, oxygen and nutrients from reaching the soil.

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About the Author:

Michelle joined News 6 as a meteorologist in May 2023.