Cooler weather means it’s time to dig into new projects

The crisp days of September-October: best time to build a new deck, add a patio or create new beds.

During this second week of September your garden is ready for a change of season. Refresh for fall with these ideas and consider September your second spring.

Top Ten Ways to Refresh your Fall Garden for a Second Spring

1. Remove the overgrown annuals from your container gardens and replace them with mum plants in warm fall colors.

Chrysanthemums are blooming in area garden centers and nurseries now. You don’t even need to remove them from their plastic nursery pots. Just pull out the old annuals and set the potted mums into the soil. Cover the rim of the plastic pot with a mulch (I like to use wine corks to hide plastic pots) and remember to keep the soil of thirsty mums moist.

2. Plant fall-blooming cyclamen (cyclamen hederifolium) in a rock garden or near a dry steam bed. These autumn-blooming bulbs need good drainage but are fierce survivors, growing into larger colonies if they like where you plant them. The blooms look delicate, like tiny butterflies in shades of pink, lavender and white.

3. Harvest your hydrangeas and dry the cut blooms indoors, out of the sun.

The easiest way to dry cut hydrangeas is to cut a stem about one foot long, remove the leaves and set into a vase with just one inch of water. Let the water evaporate and the petals will dry but not droop.

Winter tip: Dried hydrangeas can be used to decorate Christmas trees and evergreen boughs – some decorators even spray paint the dried mop heads gold or silver to add to holiday décor.

4. Weed your beds in the fall, then add a layer of fresh mulch.

Talk about putting the garden to bed – you’ll have a glow of self-satisfaction all winter if your garden beds are freshly weeded and mulched before winter.

5. Add some Japanese anemones to a shaded area.

These tall and graceful perennials can handle dry shade and compete with tree roots – just don’t let them get to comfy in a bed of great soil or they’ll go crazy and spread all over.

6. Use pumpkins to fill your porch pots.

Mini pumpkins come in shades of cream as well as orange and you will add instant harvest happiness to any porch display by setting pumpkins into planters, lining steps or letting pumpkins and gourds spill from buckets and baskets.

7. Cut back your ugly plants.

Cutting back the yellow foliage of raspberries, deadheading the faded blooms from perennials and cutting summer-weary perennials to the ground in the fall will open up space in your beds and remove hiding spots for overwinter slugs and bugs.

8. Shop nurseries for fall foliage plants.

Japanese maples, burning bush, hydrangeas and beauty berry are just a few of the colorful autumn plants you’ll find in garden centers or nurseries this month. Autumn is when you can score some great deals on discounted trees and shrubs.

9. Collect fallen leaves and store them in large plastic trash bags to make leaf mold.

Poke air holes into the bag, add a shovel full of soil and store in a garden shed or behind a shrub. In spring the moldy leaves will provide a weed blocking mulch and soil conditioner.

10. Take advantage of the cooler weather to dig into some new projects.

We live in a beautiful part of the world and the crisp days of September and October are the best time of the year to get outside and build a new deck, add a patio or create some new beds. Just keep growing.

• • •

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and several other books. For book requests or answers to gardening questions, write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.

For more gardening information, she can be reached at her Web site, www.binettigarden.com.

Copyright for this column owned by Marianne Binetti.

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