A camera is a useful garden tool in the fall


Have you done your fall garden tour yet? It is always nice to take a stroll around one of our Metroparks, Toledo Botanical Garden, or even Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton, Mich. Keep your camera handy to take pictures of all of the plants and combinations you like. This will help you create a list of "must-have" plants to take with you to your favorite home and garden center.

Say 'cheese'

Don't just record the botanical garden and Metroparks -- take your camera around your own backyard. It is a good idea to take a picture of your garden during each season. Always stand in the same location when you shoot the picture. This will give you a good record of what blooms when. You can use this documentation to fill in the bare spots this fall or next spring.

Start digging

We are getting closer to the fall equinox which officially arrives Sept. 22 at 10:49 a.m. The cooler autumnal temperatures create great conditions for planting. During the day, you get the bright sunny days without the blistering heat of summer. At night, the temperatures hover about 15-20 degrees above freezing. This teeter totter of mild temperatures keeps the soil temperatures warm and gives the roots plenty of time to spread out before winter sets in.

Take a good look at the perennials around your landscape. For example, if you see the daylilies bursting at their borders, or iris overtaking their end of the landscape, it is time to divide them. Get them in a new spot before they start to go into dormancy for winter. This will give your plants a better chance of thriving in their new place if they are transplanted while they are actively growing.

Rake before you seed

Many lawns have been hit hard by the summer drought. If you have bare patches in your turf, this is a good time to get some grass seed to sprout. The key to fall patching, is to get good seed to soil contact. Don't just toss the seed on top of the dead grass. It will be less likely to germinate. Water the area a day or two before you plan on seeding to make it easier to dig. Drag a garden rake over the bare spots first to pull off the dead grass and roots. It will also stir up the top soil. Now, toss the seed on top of the freshly cultivated soil for perfect seed to soil contact. Add a half an inch of peat moss on top to hold it in place. Then give it a light watering every other day until you see it sprout.

As fall settles in, enjoy the amazing colorful sunrises and sunsets. Keep that camera handy to catch all of the vibrant colors as your garden shows off before it goes to bed for the winter.