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Many avid gardeners that live in Denver, Colorado are a little apprehensive of fall planting. With the harsh Colorado winter not too far around the corner, perhaps they feel that the efforts involved in enhancing their garden during the autumn months are not worth the risk. However, this type of thinking does not really match the reality of the situation.
Actually, with a little planning and some perseverance, you can increase the size and variety of your garden during the fall months, and even enjoy a harvest in the middle of winter! What do you need to do? Here are six gardening tips for the fall season in Colorado that can help you make a success of your planting, watering, and harvesting work.
Clear Out Old or Unwanted Growth
Before you begin planting your new flowers, shrubs, or trees, it's important to clear the way for them to grow by removing old growth or dead plants from the soil. You may have to use a foliar, systemic herbicide on nuisance plants that can potentially divert nutrients from new additions, such as morning glory.
Prepare Your Soil Properly
Just as in springtime, it is critical that you adequately prepare your soil for new plants in the autumn. For instance, a simple way to help fertilize the soil would be to rake any falling leaves onto your lawn, cut them with a mower (preferably one with a grass catcher), and then spread them over your garden bed.
If you haven't done so already, then it is also a good idea to aerate the soil in preparation for planting. Remember, in order for your soil to yield healthy plant life, it needs to take in not only sunlight and water, but also an adequate amount of oxygen.
Choose Your Plants Wisely
If you are simply interested in preserving plants that you've already planted in the spring or summer, then you may want to begin storing them in a cool, dark place as wintry weather approaches, or otherwise prepping them for the cold season. For instance, non-hardy bulbs like gladiola and dahlias should be dug up and placed in storage; some young trees should be wrapped to prevent sun damage as autumn nears its end.
However, you also have the option to plant new flowers and shrubs during autumn-time. If you decide to do so, make sure that you are realistic in selecting your plants. Most shrubs do not require a lot of special attention during the fall season. Evergreen plants will generally require more water during the winter than deciduous trees or shrubs, but not by much. Moreover, small plants that have few flowers are more likely to survive and even thrive when planted in fall, since they will have an easier time enduring the dormant winter months.
Trees and shrubs may also require some care in mulching. For example, you'll want to mulch around the root ball of many trees and shrubs, but ensure that the mulch does not come into contact with the trunk, in order to prevent bark rot.
In addition, hardy perennials and cool-season vegetables are excellent choices for fall planting. Many gardeners leave the seed heads on their perennials throughout winter, simply because they enjoy their appearance.
Be Aware of the Best Time Frames for Planting
In Denver, and throughout Colorado's Front Range, it is generally best to plant fall flowers, trees, and shrubs before October 1st. The reason for this deadline is that a hard frost usually arrives around October 15th, and this can easily slow down the growth of newly planted flora and vegetation. On the other hand, perennials, grasses, and other plants can generally establish a solid system of roots within a 2 to 6-week time-frame, which will help them to endure the frosty mid-October weather.
Use Cold Frames
Cold frames are generally bottomless structures with glass or plastic tops that are designed to act as miniature greenhouses for plants during winter months. If you have raised beds in your garden, then it will be easy to build a cold frame around your flowers and veggies.
Cold frames allow you to promote plant growth during the cold season by simulating warmer weather. In this way, you'll be able to coax exceptional growth out of your cold season vegetables, such as kale, spinach, radishes, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, and other plants. In fact, with cold frames, you'll likely be able to enjoy a rich vegetable harvest in the dead of winter, with a foot of snow on the ground!
Be Prepared to Water During Winter
This is one of the most important gardening tips to implement. It is frequently the case that those gardeners committed to watering their plants during the winter are the ones that find the most success from their fall planting. Depending on the plant type, you may need to water anywhere from once or twice per month to every day during the winter.
If you regularly water your plants during winter, you'll likely find that they thrive during the coldest months of the year, and enter into spring looking as perky as ever. However, here's a fair warning for you: be prepared to stand outside in the cold for however long it takes to give your plants the water that they need.
Visit Country Fair Garden Center in Denver, Colorado
If you implement the above-mentioned tips during the autumn months in Colorado, then you will likely find that fall gardening is not only productive, but also highly rewarding. At the Country Fair Garden Center in Denver, Colorado, we want to help you bring all of your fall gardening efforts to fruition. Our selection of perennials and hardy plants and shrubs offers a wide variety of landscaping options, and our catalog of soil, fertilizer, and other gardening products ensures that you'll always have the supplies you need to keep your garden healthy year-round. Visit us in-store or browse our website today for more information!