The Benefits of Gardening in the Fall
For most people fall means Pumpkin Spice Lattes, sweater weather, football, and the season that trees begin to trade their bright green summertime leaves for golden, crisp fall foliage. However, there is one very important part of fall most gardeners should know about, and that is it is the perfect time for planting.
If you think spring is the most optimal time to plant new gardens, you may want to trade some of your spring plantings for fall plantings. Don't be fooled by the chilly air and the thought of winter; the ground is plenty warm for new plants to thrive and establish before their dormancy season arrives.
We put a list together of some of the most beneficial reasons planting in the fall is crucial for a garden's success.
With fall's cool air arriving, summer heat stress fades with ease. Cold nighttime temperatures alert your plants that winter is near as they begin to prepare for winter. Your garden plants focus most of their energy on underground development like their roots. Above ground, growth begins to slow because your plants are limiting new top growth that would be damaged by cold winter weather.
Cooler temperatures are great for gardeners because it is much nicer to plant in cool weather than the hot summer sun. This is also an excellent time to add a layer of mulch around the base of your plants. Doing so will help both established and new plants stay protected from cold winter weather.
Unlike soggy, unpredictable spring weather, fall weather will keep your garden soil moisture levels fairly consistent. In parts of the country, consistent rainfall comes along with fall weather. Most gardens are thirsty from summer's hot and sunny weather and love to drink up fall's rainy days.
However, because fall is much more predictable, your garden will remain dry enough to stay workable throughout the season. Remember that if you have consistent rainfall, you will not need to water your plants manually; let the rain do all the work for you!
Soil temperatures are much warmer than they are in the spring because of the summer heat. Warm soil allows for roots to continue to grow and for newly planted plants to establish their roots before dormancy in the winter. Even though the tops of your plants are preparing for dormancy, their roots continue to flourish through the winter.
We recommend that you plant about six weeks before your area receives its first frost. Doing so will allow new roots to establish right before they go dormant. After winter has come and gone, your fall-planted plants will be ready to thrive all growing season long.
Fewer Weeds to Worry About
Just like the plants in your garden, weeds do not thrive in cold weather. In fact, most weeds are warm-season lovers, and once cool fall weather arrives, they disappear. Less competition from actively growing weeds means more uninterrupted growth for your newly planted plants.
Also, all your fall-planted plants will already be well established enough to fight off weeds once they begin to grow again in the spring.
An Extra Growing Season
Fall planting allows new plants a short and productive growing season before they go dormant in the winter. However, once winter comes to a close and spring begins to bud its head, your fall-planted plants have a second growing season before the hot summer arrives.
This bonus fall planting season allows your plants to grow and establish their roots stronger than if you were to plant them in the spring.
Prime Time to Fertilize
Because of predictable weather and cooler temperatures, plants can grow stronger and healthier. With predictable rainfall plants, roots can absorb more nutrients, making it the perfect time for you to fertilize. Nitrogen helps leafy growth and rich color, while Phosphorus promotes strong root development.
Potassium enhances overall growth and helps regulate root development and top growth- keeping your plants balanced. Be sure to halt fertilizing once winter arrives. Overfertilizing could occur if you continue to feed your plants in winter.
Less Pests, Less Stress
Similar to weeds, fall weather brings a drop in pests activity. Your newly planted plants will not have to worry about those pesky pests that can infest or irritate their growth. Fall planting also provides gardeners the perfect time to examine their plants for any problems. If you notice any infestations, diseases, or problems, be sure to treat your plants before winter arrives. Doing so will allow your plants to enter winter dormancy without problems and enter spring pest-free.
Summer Plants Fade, Fall Plants Flourish
Along with all the growing and healthy benefits for your plants, fall gardening is beneficial for your garden's appearance. Fall planting provides a blueprint for a new and improved spring display and provides an immediate show until winter arrives.
There are many fall-blooming perennials, trees, and shrubs that will add beautiful interest to your garden throughout fall. This is also a great time to plant any winter-interest-specific plants like unique bark or plants that look stunning with or without foliage.