When it comes to Nebraska I love it when we get to September. From the cooler, crisper weather, to the shorter days and longer nights, to the promise of crops almost ready for harvest – September is a favorite time for me. September is also well known as the end of summer and the beginning of fall; there is just something about September that grabs me every year.
Maybe it is because I can see the end of the year coming, and I know that after all the hard work of the spring and summer our time is short until Mother Nature sends us another blast of Nebraska winter. September can be so much better than the heat of summer or the cold of winter, and in the green industry the return of September also brings with it being able to stop fighting the heat and being able to enjoy our work outside. And while fall isn’t truly with us until we reach Sept. 22, there is so much we can do in our yards, gardens and landscapes into fall.
Fall is a great time for planting in our landscapes. While there are many who think the best time to plant in the landscape is in spring, I actually prefer to install new plants in late summer to early fall. The moderation of Mother Nature’s extremes offers us a wonderful time to plant, harvest, maintain and encourage our gardens and landscapes to even better levels. Mother Nature usually offers a bit of rain and nice lingering warmth to give our new plants the perfect chance to settle into place before winter blows into town. By planting in the fall, as soon as Mother Nature decides to warm up next spring fall installed plants can “wake up” and begin growing before I even have time to think about planting.
When talking about fall planting, I always think we should mention a few plants that offer gorgeous fall color so our landscapes have interest all growing season long. For perennials consider the sedums, hardy hibiscus, goldenrod, and ornamental grasses. If you are looking for something more sizable consider varieties of burning bush, althea (rose of sharon), ninebark, sumac and viburnum. When it comes to trees, I find the bright reds and oranges a wonderful choice versus the yellows of our many native tree varieties so consider maples and oaks.
Fall is also a wonderful time to experience beautiful color through the planting of fall blooming mums and asters. Whether you are changing out your summer annual beds or a few pots on the patio, mums and asters are some of the most colorful plants in the landscape each fall. They are also able to withstand some cooler weather prolonging your enjoyment usually well through October or longer. In most cases wait to transition your annual areas to mums and asters to when we start getting a bit cooler toward the middle of September.
No discussion of fall planting is complete without talking about spring flowering bulbs. To enjoy your spring bulbs you need to install them this fall. Try to mix your colors and bulbs throughout your landscape in areas that will receive southern or western sun for best results. Spring flowering bulb planting is almost fool proof and gives such a colorful return on a simple investment of your time.
Finally, we are nearing the end of the best time to do turf grass seeding. We generally recommend mid-August to mid-September as the best time to seed, but you should be fine as long as you seed before the end of September. Remember to properly prepare the areas; sow good quality seed and utilize a covering material like peat moss, compost or straw to keep the new seed moist through germination. Once your young grass has germinated, let it get a bit shaggy before mowing and try to get at least three or four mowings on the new grass before winter hits to help harden it off.
September and the return of the fall can be such an amazing time to enjoy in Nebraska. Whether it is enjoying the change in the weather, accomplishing some tasks around your landscape or maybe being a spectator at a Husker game, September can be such a great time in Nebraska.
— Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department. A Lancaster County Farm Bureau Member, Campbell’s, a family owned Nebraska business since 1912. offers assistance for all your landscaping and gardening needs at either of their two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office.