Flowers

Putting in the fall hours will lead to spring flowers. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

This fall season, make the most of your yard and get your gardens in tip-top shape for the spring ahead

Spring is typically the first season to come to mind when someone mentions gardening, yet much of what we see in the spring relies on fall preparation. Instead of worrying that the days of looking out at a beautiful yard are becoming few and far between, take advantage of the fall climate to prepare for a beautiful spring blossom as well as a neat and tidy winter.

The first thing to note when talking about fall is that fall is not just one gardening season but two. Terry Soares, of Soares Flower Garden Nursery in East Falmouth, cites Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf when speaking about the seasons. Oudolf believes the year to be divided into five gardening seasons: winter, spring, summer, early fall and late fall. Soares says that different gardening tasks should be performed at different points of autumn in order for complete success, both for the winter as well as the following spring. Soares defines early fall as the time between late August and late October. “This is the time to clean out everything that is past its prime,” she says.

“Past its prime” usually refers to the early season bloomers, but with the drought Cape Cod experienced this summer, many plants are already withering. In particular, Soares suggests that now is the time to cut back most perennials. When cutting them back, you should think about if you want them anywhere else in the garden, because now is also a good time to divide perennials and replant, which will invigorate them. If you should choose to take on this task, David Christopher of Agway of Orleans recommends marking both the new and the old locations because “It may be fresh in your mind now, but remembering where all your perennial plants were planted can be a challenge next spring. Placing some simple plant tags in front of each of your perennials now will save you the guess work next year.”