Fall is a great time of year to do landscaping because it is a good time for planting just about anything. Plants go into a sort of dormant state during the winter, so planting something during the fall allows it to adjust to soil and other conditions, as well as store begin storing up water and nutrients to help it survive the warmer, dryer, summer months. In autumn trees once again come into prominence, showing off rich gold's, purples, and reds. Closer to the ground, skillful gardeners keep the color coming with rich red pine mulches and well-selected shrubs and perennials. Better Homes and Gardens suggest for more color from annuals you can plant cool-season types of plants, such as snapdragons and pansies, which keep going even after frost.
Ornamental grasses are also at their most gorgeous now, especially when backlit by the slanting golden light of an autumn afternoon. Plus according to Allan Block of AB International, fall is the smartest time to plan next year's landscaping project because you can save time, money and headaches. "By approaching your landscape contractor during the off-season, you can be sure to get their full attention while the back-log is minimal," said Bill Gordon, spokesman for Mid-America Green Industry Council. "By planning ahead, you can get a jump on your landscaping project and have the entire summer to enjoy your new surroundings."
Contrary to many homeowners' habits, fall is the best time to begin planning for upcoming landscaping projects. Homeowners should assess their yards for "needs" such as a retaining wall to help control erosion or "wants" such as an outdoor patio. Contact a professional in advance to avoid long waits in spring, or start stashing away supplies now if you are going to do it yourself.
Use fall and winter downtime to contact a landscape designer. During this off-season, landscape specialists generally can draw up plans more quickly and cost-effectively. Or, if you have the skills, use your creativity to design your own landscaping plans. You will be glad you did.
Early spring is also the best time to hire a landscape installer, before they become overbooked and begin increasing bid prices. When spring arrives and the ground thaws, your planning and design work is already done. Because you planned ahead, you'll be at the top of your contractor's list and can begin building a new retaining wall, outdoor patio or courtyard.
Perennial garden beds ideally should also be cleaned up and mulched as part of your work in fall gardens. Remove old stalks and leaves since you'll have to do so in the spring anyways, so you might as well be a step ahead. Pine mulch is an excellent mulch to use but remember to leave an inch or two of space around the stems of plants and trunks of trees to allow the plants to breathe and avoid problems down the road.