Time to take stock and prepare for next spring

In late summer, while our lawns are dormant and the growing season is waning, it’s time to sit down and take some garden notes to prepare for next spring.

Are there any changes you would like to make to the yard? Did you want to add a nice structure to the back yard?

Are there some large plants that require lots of pruning and you need to move them?

These are a few questions I like asking when helping others plan their gardens.

How much sun or shade do you get? How is the soil quality? Does it stay wet, or does it dry out?

Choose shade loving plants for shady areas, sun-loving plants for sunny areas, and drought resistant varieties for dry conditions. Do not move any plants at this time. I like to transplant and move plants in the spring.

Plants are in active growth in spring; energy is stored in the roots.

As I mentioned in my last column, summer is a good time for pruning. I notice people cutting plants into all sorts of interesting shapes. Please do not top your plants. There’s a way to prune – please refer to my previous columns for details.

And now, on to fall.

Fall, is a time to enjoy the bounties of our grow season. Trees are showing there fall color. Take notes. Is there some color you would like to add in your own yard? This time of the year I like to finish up on some pruning of trees and shrubs. The key in pruning at this time of the year is to prune before the leaves drop. I like pruning Japanese maples and most fruit trees at this time. Never top your trees. Consider how the plant grows and prune for its natural growth. If you have trees that were pruned wrong, or need some rejuvenating, only prune a third now and then a third next season and so on.

Preparing your lawn for the winter is very important. Take some steps such as aerating first. Do a light thatch and most important top dress with some nice compost. The soil is alive with microbes. The microbes work side by side with the plants roots. Thus, keeping your plant healthy and better withstanding disease and insect infestations. Your brown lawn will soon come out of dormancy so when the rains come back you can cut down on your watering.

Tips for the lawn:

Northwest lawns go dormant in the summer; it is a good idea to water an inch a week. When fall arrives we need to start the renovation process (over-seeding and top-dressing). I will discuss this later. For now, mechanical weeding is important.

Enjoy the sun. Fall and winter will be here before you know it.

You can reach Gardener Joe at


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