Fall Garden Projects for a Head Start in Spring

The geese are on the wing and leaves are turning — it’s time to begin preparing for winter. Here are some of the garden and landscape projects you might do this time of year that will help you get off to a good start next spring.

Winter Protection for Evergreens
Last winter was particularly hard on evergreen plants. We recommend you spray Wilt-Pruf® now to protect plants from drying sun and winds. Wilt-Pruf is a natural pine oil emulsion that forms a clear, flexible protective layer on leaves and gives plants an edge. It works by helping hold moisture in the leaves and stems during periods of moisture stress such as winter or transplanting. It is especially recommended for protecting broadleaved evergreens such as azaleas, boxwoods, rhododendrons and hollies. We also suggest Wilt-Pruf be applied for winter protection on fine needle evergreens planted in exposed windy places or transplanted the prior fall. Wilt-Pruf is a useful and versatile product. You can also apply it to protect and extend the life of Christmas trees and wreaths by reducing moisture loss which results in needle drop and browning.

Spray Wilt-Pruf when temperatures are cool (40-50 degrees) but not freezing. It’s important that the spray does not freeze on the foliage while spraying. Allow at least three hours for drying time in daylight (not necessarily sunlight). Wilt-Pruf is a film forming polymer and needs ultraviolet daylight rays in order for the spray to set up. It is available at The Growing Place in a quart ready-to-use spray bottle or concentrate that can be applied with your pump sprayer.

A Word About Brown Evergreens
Have you noticed that your aborvitaes and other evergreens have brown interior needles but still have green needles on the outside? Don’t worry, it’s probably just normal interior needle drop. They are preparing for winter. However, if the outside needles are turning brown before the interior needles it could be due to under or over watering. Watering should be done so that the entire root ball is getting moisture. Check the soil around the base of the evergreens. Make sure that you are checking about 2 inches below the surface of the soil, under the mulch. If it is dry, give it a good drink by placing a hose on a slow drip so that the entire root ball gets moisture. If the soil is wet, you can pull back some of the mulch to allow it to dry out quicker.

There’s Still Time to Plant and Plan
Now, and for the next several weeks, the weather is perfect for installing trees (bareroot, container or balled and burlapped), shrubs and perennials. Cooler weather means less stress and moisture evaporation. Even when there’s a nip in the air, and deciduous plants shed their leaves, plant roots continue to grow. Maintaining adequate moisture for new plantings and existing landscapes until the ground freezes is absolutely essential for winter survival. Rainfall in the latter part of this summer was scant, so plants installed this year should continue to receive thorough watering as needed. To make that determination poke you finger into the soil, or use an inexpensive moisture meter to check the moisture status of plants. Established plantings and turf should receive about one inch of water per week.

Right now is also a great time to start planning for next year. Take stock of how your garden performed this year. What did you like, what didn’t you like? What do you what to add or change for next year? Take some pictures of your garden right now before the snow falls to reference next year (or just enjoy when there are piles of snow on the ground in January). If you really want to get a jump start on next year, our landscape designers are avaiable for consultations all year long. Just give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Instant Lawn with Sod
Speaking of turf, although it’s getting to be too late to plant grass seed and expect good germination this fall, it is an excellent time to plant sod. As is the case with trees, shrubs and perennials, the cooler weather means less moisture stress on newly planted sod. Sod permits you to roll out a whole new lawn in a day or less, or just patch bare spots in minutes. Either way preparing the soil is important. Make sure the area is free of grass and weeds. Rototill or work Espoma Bio-tone® Starter Plus into soil to a depth of six inches. Remove stones and debris and rake the area smooth. Lay out the sod and cut to fit, making sure it’s the same depth as the surrounding turf. Ensure good root to soil contact by stepping on the sod; for larger areas use a water-filled roller available from tool rental centers. Water daily for several weeks and keep traffic off the sod.

The Growing Place carries sod available in eight square foot rolls (2’ x 4’). If you’re planning a sod installation project for the weekend, we recommend you call The Growing Place by Thursday afternoon in order to reserve enough sod for your project.

Fall is a season of wonder, color and cooler temperatures. Don’t go dormant just yet, it’s the perfect time for accomplishing a garden project. Next spring you’ll be glad you did.

Aurora Location

2000 Montgomery Road,

Aurora, IL 60504

Phone. 630-820-8088

Naperville Location

25w471 Plank Road,

Naperville, IL 60563

Phone. 630-355-4000

Spring Hours

March 30-June 30

Monday-Friday: 9am-7pm

Saturday: 9am-5pm

Sunday: 11am-5pm

Memorial Day Hours

Monday, May 27


Growing for the future with
right plantsĀ in right places.