It is still fairly hot and muggy in my area of Texas (USDA hardiness zones 7 and 8), but September is a pivotal month in the backyard. It is the gateway between summer and fall gardening, moving us into cooler-weather fare. So in the event that you can bear the heat, hang in there and get outdoors. Next year’s garden will thank you for the work you do right now.
Fertilize the lawn. Fall is the best time to fertilize your yard. Use a lawn fertilizer with a ratio of 3:2:1 or 4:2:1 of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus at a rate of 1 pound per 1,000 square feet of grass.
Always follow the instructions on the package and avoid overfertilizing, which will just harm your yard. Resist the urge to use “winterizing” fertilizers before late October or early November. Water well after applying fertilizers.
Divide perennials. Every year or two, it’s a good practice to dig up and divide certain perennials, like cannas, daylilies, bearded irises, wood ferns, violets and Shasta daisies. These types of plants create large clumps or bulbs, and dividing them is a healthy practice which allows them more breathing room.
To split a plant:
• Dig up the plant, being careful to get as much of the roots as you can.
• Gently separate the roots or bulbs, with a hand tool if needed before replanting your “excess” plants into other parts of your backyard.
• Water thoroughly and gently mulch to protect these new plants and get them off to a good start.
Clean up your spring and summer backyard. That way you’ll create room to your cooler-weather plants.
• Eliminate any plant that’s dead, including summer and spring annuals, like petunias, impatiens and vincas.
• Get rid of your previous summer vegetables which are no longer producing, like tomatoes, summer squash and summer greens.
• Trim any plant that’s still powerful but is seeing the effects of the hot summertime.
• Insert all this garden debris to your mulch pile unless it’s pest or disease ridden, then moisten the pile and turn it thoroughly.
Missouri Botanical Garden
Freshen up your herb garden. You may plant any lingering herbs now, including dill, fennel, parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano and rosemary. If you want to try your hands at sowing seeds, choose caraway, chamomile, chives, summer basil, borage and chervil seeds. Use a seed-starting kit which has trays of cells that are shallow, or use peat pots available at your nursery.
Maria Hickey & Associates Landscapes
Plant perennials. Fall is a wonderful time for planting perennials, and virtually any perennial that’s acceptable for growing in zones 7 or 8 is a good choice.
Consider adding Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida), Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), yellowbells (Tecoma stans) and autumn sage (Salvia gregii).
Planting perennials in the autumn gives them the warmer months to build healthy, deep roots, which means that your spring expansion will be much larger and robust.
Johnsen Landscapes & Pools
Plant trees and shrubs. Starting in September and moving into October and November is the favorite time to plant trees shrubs and trees. Just like perennials, shrubs and trees that are planted in the autumn is going to have the winter to establish a deep root system. Their spring growth and drought resistance will be much better than if you plant them in the warmer months.
Contemplate trees like Shumard red oak (Quercus shumardii)along withcrape myrtle (Lagerstroemia spp), and shrubs such as dwarf yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) and glossy abelia (Abelia grandiflora).
J. Peterson Garden Design
Plant your fall vegetable garden. We can finally plant our cool-season vegetable garden with transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, chard, collards, lettuce, spinach, endive and mustard. (Make sure last year’s vegetables are all cleared out before planting the new ones, as unhygienic practices may spread pests and diseases.)
Water your new vegetables and gently top-dress with mulch or pine needles to discourage weeds, then wait for your first crop.
J. Peterson Garden Design
Start a wildflower garden. You will need until Thanksgiving to plant seeds, but the first part of September until early October is the best time.
Wildflowers like bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis),Indian paintbrush (Castilleja),Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) and purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) demand full sunlight and well-drained dirt to flower best. You are able to buy seed mixes from the regional nursery or botanical center, or call your county extension service if you have trouble finding seeds or need more specific information.
More: Guides to your Texas backyard