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By Lyn Chimera

September is one of my favorite months to garden. It’s cooler (hopefully) with more regular rain (hopefully). With the way the weather has been fluctuating this season from cool and wet to hot and dry, who knows what September will bring. Whatever the weather, there’s lots to do in the garden and some things that are better held off until spring.

Early September is a great time to reseed or overseed your lawn. If you have some bare spots or areas where the grass is thin, all you need to do is loosen the soil, spread the seed, lightly cover with peat moss, and water. Keeping the seed well-watered is very important. The light coating of peat moss helps prevent birds getting at the seeds as well as holding the seed in place. The type of grass seed you use will make a difference. Match the seed to your growing conditions. Good seed for specific requirements will cost more but will be worth it.

Now is not the time for major pruning of shrubs, trees, and roses. Pruning in fall may cause weak branches to sprout which will not get through the winter very well. Also, because the plants are going into dormancy, the cuts don’t heal as well. The best time for pruning is in the early spring/late winter before the buds have begun to open. Two exceptions:

- Dead or damaged wood or branches that are a hazard can be removed anytime.

- Shrubs and trees that bloom in spring should be pruned after they bloom.

Dividing and/or moving perennials can be done now. I’m waiting for the weather to cool down and more consistent rain. That weather makes the move less stressful on the plants and much less time consuming to ensure their success. Plants can be divided or moved for a few reasons:

- They have outgrown the spot they are in.

- Blooming has diminished.

- There is a round empty hole in the middle of the plant. This is called the doughnut hole and is the plants way of telling you it needs to be divided.

- If after a plant has been in a spot for 3 years and is not thriving, try another spot or give it to a friend who has a more appropriate site.

During fall clean up, don’t leave any diseased or insect infested plants or leaves. Cut the plant back and discard the stems and leaves. Make sure to remove any infected leaves that may have fallen on the ground. Some fungal diseases can overwinter and will reinfect your plants next year.

Do leave seed bearing plants like daisy, coneflower, black-eyed-Susan, and others up to feed the birds in winter. I do very little fall clean up for a few reasons besides being lazy. Not only do the seeds feed the birds but the existing crown of the plant provides additional protection against winter temperature fluctuations. Besides, I like seeing the plants through the snow in the winter. It reminds me that I have a garden there.

You will save a lot of time in the spring if you weed well in the fall. For the annual seeded weeds, you will be removing the potential for seeds to sprout in the spring and for perennial weeds they will be much smaller to remove now than in the spring.

Make a list of what worked and what didn’t. Include what you want to plant or remove in the spring as well as where those perennials you put in this year are located. Don’t forget to make note or mark where you planted bulbs. It’s always aggravating to put your shovel in the ground in the spring only to be right on top of a perennial or bulbs you forgot were there.

Early September is a good time to take cuttings from annuals you’d like to start for next season. This should be done while the annuals are in their prime.

If you have houseplants outside, don’t bring them straight into the house. Check them carefully for insects and give them a good, soapy, water bath. Bring them in before the nights get below 50 degrees and give them a few days in a sheltered place to get them used to indoor light and temperature conditions.

Happy gardening and enjoy this beautiful season!

To contact me at Lessons from Nature, call 652-2432 or e-mail at lyn@lessonsfromnature.biz. I can e-mail or mail the gift certificates.