5 Fall-Approved Garden Tips

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
By: Dr. Becky Langer, Bayer North American Bee Care Program, Project Manager
Bee pollinating purple flower

Fall is here! Yes, it’s that time of the year when people sip on pumpkin spice lattes and spend their weekends cheering on their favorite team. This could mean less time is spent in the garden – but it doesn’t have to. Bees are still busy getting ready for the winter to make sure they emerge healthy in the spring. Try your hand at these five fall-approved tips to maximize the gardening time we have left and to ensure your garden is in tip-top shape come spring to help the bees, too!


1. Keep an Eye Out for Sales


Many garden and home improvement stores lower their prices at the end of the warm season to make room for new inventory. So if you’ve had your eye on a new lawnmower or other garden gadgets, now is the time to buy. And it’s never too early to stock up on soil or fertilizer for the next growing season!


2. Store Seeds and Plant Bulbs


If you have leftover seed packets, put them in the freezer so they stay fresh for next spring. But go ahead and plant bulbs, such as tulips and irises, which serve as great sources of pollen for bees. The winter freeze actually helps these plants grow, so it’s best to put them in the ground during the fall. Be sure to plant before the first freeze – preferably when the temps are in the forties or fifties. You can also plant many types of trees or shrubs in the fall, which tend to bloom earlier in the year. That way, bees have an additional forage option on those surprisingly warmer days that arrive as winter closes and spring approaches. Also, consider thinking ahead for next year. Plants such as sedum and asters are planted in the spring but bloom in the fall and can keep bees fed until it is time to overwinter.


3. Prune Late-bloomers and Trim Perennials


Remove dead limbs and cut back your perennials. This will give them an added boost for next year and limit some post-season diseases and infestations. However, avoid pruning your pithy shrubs, such as sumac or hydrangea, too much when possible, as pollinators that are cavity nesters take winter refuge in dead stems of these plants.


4. Mow and Fertilize Your Lawn


Just because your grass isn’t growing as fast as it did during the summertime doesn’t mean it doesn’t need some TLC! Fall lawn care will help it flourish in the springtime. So, give it a final trim and be sure to feed and fertilize it to help strengthen its roots.


5. Clean-up Debris


Rake your garden but don’t worry about making it too tidy. Leaving little areas of weeds, branches and leaves can provide habitats for small wildlife, including pollinators. During the winter, honey bees look for small crevasses or empty burrows protected by fallen leaves and light debris to make their nests. Leaving fallen leaves and twigs over plant beds can also prevent soil erosion and help regulate soil temperature. If you’d rather clear all debris off your garden, consider making a space for ground nester pollinators. These native bees look for sunny sections of friable soil clear of any vegetation in which to burrow several inches below the surface. Be sure to throw the leaves you do rake into your compost bin for use next spring.


And there you have it! The end of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of gardening. And maybe the work you take care of in the fall will pay off with a shorter to-do list in the spring. Happy gardening!


Sources:


http://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/planting-and-maintenance/fall-planting-tips


http://time.com/money/3998183/fall-gardening-tips/


http://greatpollinatorproject.org/management/nesting-habitat


http://www.plants.usda.gov/pollinators/Enhancing_Nest_Sites_For_Native_Bee_Crop_Pollinators.pdf


http://www.bulbblog.com/tulip/


http://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/act-today/plant-a-bee-garden/


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