WHEELING - With the fall season underway and temperatures starting to drop, it's time to plant trees, shrubbery, bulbs and fall flowers.
"Now is the best time to plant trees and shrubby because they are starting to go dormant, they are not going to grow, there is less transplant shock, and they need less watering. It's also a good time to plant some of the seasonal flowers like mums," said P.J. Lenz, co-owner of Nicky's Garden Center on W.Va. 88 in Wheeling.
"For your lawns, now is a great time to aerate, overseed, and put down fertilizer. Aerating breaks up the root system a little bit and allows them to get water," he added. "It's also a great time for decorating with things like grasses, corn stalks, and pumpkins."
P.J. Lenz, co-owner of Nicky’s Garden Center stands next to his wife, Nikki, with a basket of mums, a fall favorite for landscaping around the home.
Photo by Art Limann
Additional suggestions include ornamental kale, cabbage, butterfly bushes, peppers and grass.
Trees and shrubs should be protected from wildlife and also with some kind of weather barrier. Shrubs such as boxwood and euonymus, and deciduous and fruit trees are good choices.
Proper placement is important when planting shrubs. Keep in mind what size the plant will be when mature to avoid placing it too close to your house or other structures.
Shrubs need full sun and well-drained soil in most cases. A hole should be dug as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Rocks and debris should be removed first, and after a shrub is in the hole, roots should be spread gently by hand before the hole is filled in.
Lenz noted fall pansies also are popular. If they are planted in a somewhat protected area they can bloom all winter long and should come back in the spring.
"This is the time you want to plant your tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths for spring," Lenz said. "I recommend daffodils, because the deer won't eat the daffodils. If you plant mums they need to be treated or sprayed for deer."
When planting bulbs, the general rule is to plant them three to four times deeper than the size of the bulb. Plant the bulbs with the growing tip, or the pointy end, up. There should be enough drainage so bulbs don't sit in water. In heavy clay, mix in one-third to one-half organic material such as peat moss or compost. Be careful planting bulbs in a southern location, next to a foundation, which could cause the bulbs to emerge too early and be susceptible to freezing.
"Most trees can be trimmed back after they lose their leaves. Things like azaleas and rhododendron should not be cut back because of buds," he said, noting if in doubt, it's best to ask a professional.