When you think of the fall season, Texas might not be the first place that comes to mind. We may not receive the array of autumnal colors that colder regions get, but we can still take advantage of the lower temperatures and fall foliage. In fact, Texas’ mild fall and winter provide ideal conditions for growing greens and vegetables. Transitioning your summer yard is a great time to prepare for next spring and try growing new plants. Don’t know how to get started? Here are some practices and tips that will help elevate your outdoor space this fall.
Picking the Right Spot
If you are starting a new garden this fall, picking the right location is vital to the success of your plants. According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, gardens need at least six hours of sunlight a day. If some areas of your garden receive less light than other sections, be sure to place your fruit and root crops in the sunniest sections. Leafy greens can handle less sunlight, so place those in the shadier areas.
Growing New Plants
Fall is the opportune time to try growing new plants and vegetables in your garden. One advantage of gardening in the fall is less water use. Due to cooler temperatures, soil doesn’t dry out as quickly as it does in the summer. Compared to the spring, growing new plants in the fall will require less water and will have a better chance to mature and establish roots. There are also significantly fewer weeds and pests in the fall.
Some varieties of vegetables thrive in cooler weather that you may want to try to plant this fall. September is the perfect time to start planting broccoli, cabbage and kale, as they can handle cooler conditions. Learn more about Texas fall vegetables and planting schedules here.
Along with vegetables, fall is a perfect time to plant some new trees. In a recent article in Texas Monthly, Dallas-based landscape architect David Hocker states, “Fall is the best time to establish a framework so that your larger, investment-type plant materials can be placed in the ground after the weather breaks and start to develop. They’re not going to actively grow above ground, but the root development is going to start to happen so that when spring gets here, they’re well situated for having a full growing season and going into the heat of the summer.”
Your local nursery can help you choose suitable trees and the best place to plant your new tree. Strategically-planted trees can help you save energy and money by blocking cold winds in the winter and providing shade in the summer.
Utilizing Leaves for Free Mulch
If you used to throw out the leaves that gather up on your lawn, think again. Shredding the leaves with your lawnmower gives you free, shredded mulch for your garden. Simply wait for the leaves to dry and shred them with your lawnmower. Using this leaf mulch has many benefits besides being free. It can buffer soil temperatures, which keeps the soil warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. It also suppresses weeds and helps retain soil moisture.
Using Quality Soil
Preparing good quality soil is one of the most important things you can do for your garden. Adding organic matter compost to your soil helps both clay and sandy soil perform better and keeps your plants healthy. Check out the “Preparing the soil for fall gardens” section from the comprehensive fall garden guide from Texas A&M AgriLife Service here.
Recovering from Drought
This summer, most of Texas experienced some form of drought. For those who have had garden trouble due to the drought, use these upcoming fall months to rejuvenate your affected flowerbeds by composting, fertilizing and cultivating. Once they are revived, they will be ready for you to plant fall annuals such as mums and pansies.
If your drought-affected plants cannot be revived, you may consider replacing them with drought-resistant plants. Xeriscaping involves several principles, such as planning a water-efficient garden and using native plants in your beds. To learn more about xeriscaping, its benefits and how to do it, click here.
Store Away for the Winter
Once you are done with your fall gardening, don’t forget to properly store your tools for next spring. Thoroughly cleaning your tools before storing them will ensure that they are ready to go next year. If you store your garden hoses during the wintertime, make sure to completely drain them before coiling them up.
Whether you try to grow new vegetables or use the cooler conditions to rejuvenate your summer flowers, enjoy the time outdoors in your colorful landscape. Good luck and happy gardening!