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Attractive and neatly organized planting beds don’t happen by accident. It takes planning and regular maintenance to keep them looking that way.

Watering

Most plants depend on even moisture. However, slight drying out before watering promotes root growth of the plants. Properly watering the plants in fall, can be an effective means of minimizing injury to plants during the winter. Watering plants sparingly in early autumn will allow them to transition more smoothly from the growing season into the dormant season. Then in the late autumn after the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, give plants and deciduous trees and shrubs a deep watering.

Pruning

Pruning stimulates new growth, and all plants want to go to sleep for the winter. You are best not to prune your trees and plants in late fall if you live in an area where winter means bitter cold. The tender new growth will freeze, killing it—and perhaps the entire plant as well. Try to prune the trees and shrubs into the shape of its natural growth pattern. Sometimes it is worth replacing plants as opposed to regular pruning. Too much pruning is labor intensive and often harms the overall health of the plant. Flowering shrubs should be pruned after the plant blooms, so you can enjoy the full beauty of the plant, remove any spent blossoms and do not cut off new buds that will be forming.

Drainage

Whenever possible tilling in good quality soil is a good option. When planting new plants dig the hole twice as big as the root ball , add quality soil and install the plant a bit above the grade of the adjacent bed.

Fertilizing

Plant can be damaged if they are over fertilized. A 15-15-15- fertilizer, applied in the Spring or Fall will do the trick. For established plantings, spread the fertilizer evenly around the plants and lightly rake it into the soil, then water thoroughly. If possible, pull back the mulch around plants so the fertilizer is applied to the soil and not on top of the mulch.

Insects & Disease

When plants are actively growing, their roots take up water and nutrients from soil and will also take up the insecticide better. When treating plants in fall, time applications for early in the season, while leaves are still present on plants. In colder regions, apply systemic insecticides in very early fall. In warmer zones, wait until mid-fall or even later, depending on when or if trees become dormant for winter. When plants are healthy, roots are more actively taking up water and nutrients from soil and will also take up the insecticide better While there are environmentally sensitive products available, utilizing resistant varieties and keep them healthy is often a better approach.

Mulching

Fall mulching has many benefits not the least of which, , is that you can walk around in the garden on rainy days and not have three inches of sticky mud on the soles of your shoes when you come back inside. Applying mulch in the fall reduces water loss in soil, suppresses weed growth, and protects plants from temperature extremes — the final warm October days and first wintry November nights. Bark mulch is typically the least expensive and most commonly used form of mulch. Bark provides the most effective control of weed germination in beds. Organic mulches (compost of mixes of sawdust and organic content) add valuable nutrients to the soil, but due to their high organic content typically do not control weed growth as well as bark.

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