Many people I know start to cut back on their gardening and landscaping efforts right about now, in the middle of October. Maybe they know that no matter what they do, leaves will still fall from the trees and shrubs in a matter of weeks, and yards will look a little bare until spring. And they’re content to take a break from landscaping until then.
So it seems that every year, I find myself encouraging people to spend more time planting, moving, and adjusting their gardens and landscapes throughout October and November. The weather is bound to be wonderful, as it was here in Virginia Beach last weekend. And many things we can do now, in early fall, will reward us next spring and throughout the year.
One thing I always suggest doing is visiting a Virginia Beach nursery or two. Grab a pumpkin latte and do a little cool-weather browsing. You won’t see the spectacular colors on display that would have excited you in June, but you are likely to see some great bargains. Nurseries don’t want to keep their stock over the winter, so trees and shrubs will be priced to move.
Fall isn’t just the best time of the year to buy new trees and shrubs: It’s the best time to plant them. New plantings can expand their roots for months while stresses are at a minimum. By the time the stresses of growing season and summer’s heat, your plants will have the robust root systems to bring them the moisture and nutrients they need to thrive.
I’ve had great luck both finding and planting trees in the fall – in fact, it’s almost become an annual tradition for me. I’ve found excellent bargains on normally expensive Japanese maple trees that I normally couldn’t afford, and the trees look great come next spring. The only downside to getting a bargain on a big tree is that I can’t handle it myself. If this happens to you, do as I do: Put one of Virginia Beach’s best landscaping crews to work.
If you’re like me, over the course of the year you find yourself wanting to re-position a shrub or two. Maybe a shrub is getting too much sun, or maybe not enough. Perhaps your shrub has outgrown its space or is about to be overshadowed by that lovely purple maple you just planted. As is the case with any new plantings, your repositioned shrubs will benefit from being moved during a low-stress time of year.
Now is also a great time to remove unwanted shrubs. Maybe that shrub’s color, blooms, and foliage are wrong; maybe it needs more light or shade than your yard can provide. If that’s the case, pull it out of your yard. But before you do, try to ask a friend or a neighbor if they may have a place for it. Sometimes a change of environment is just what an under-performing shrub needs – and giving it a second chance beats sending it to landfill.
Winter will get here soon enough, and you’ll have plenty to time to stay inside and relax. In the meantime, take advantage of the lovely October weather we get in Virginia. This weekend’s forecast calls for clear, blue skies in the mid-sixties. So grab your gardening tools, enjoy the fresh air, and plant something you’ll love seeing next spring.