• Gayle B

It's Not Too Late

Zones 4 and lower are starting their first weeks of freezing weather. It's getting late for planting most things, but it's not too late for planting bulbs, weeding and re-edging your garden beds. While I am cleaning off plants from my beds as they go dormant or freeze, I am taking care to think of my winter view and leaving some behind to pop up through the snow. Ornamental grasses, coneflower, hydrangea and sedum are the best for this purpose. I am also planting a few spring bulbs for the earliest views of new life in the spring.

The best time to plant bulbs is when the soil cools to about 50 degrees. It isn’t very critical where you put them, because their green foliage dies back after blooming and leaves space for other plants to fill in.

As plants get cleaned off, there are often weeds hiding where you didn’t see them before. I continue to pull weeds, even this late in the season, because common weeds like dandelions, thistles, plantain and volunteer trees are perennials and won’t die with the freezing weather. You will be ahead of the game in the spring when they will sprout again with even stronger roots. The unfrozen fall ground is easier to dig than spring ground which can be muddy until all of the frost is out. It also compacts your soil to dig it when it’s too wet.

It’s also a great time to redefine your garden bed edges. If you have a natural edge like I do, grass will gradually encroach on your bed edges by a few inches during the growing season. Crab grass runners may have started into your beds. Re-edging tidies up your edges, and chops off runners before they can get established in your beds. If you have runners, be sure to completely pull them out of your beds. I just go around with a curved tip shovel, but you can also use a flat tipped shovel if your ground is soft enough. I do this a few times a year, here and there as needed.

The above left photo shows encroaching grass and the yellow spots on the lawn are where annuals expanded over the edges. So I will take out that area. The two photos on the right are how edges look when you are done.

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