I made this point last year in October, but I wanted to get a head-start on it this year. I bet many of you weren't aware of this, but the months of October and November, are considered to be THE BEST month for landscaping projects. It can be brand new landscape jobs, or revamping of existing landscapes. Many plants can be set out in the beds and their roots have plenty of time to still establish before what we know of as winter comes rolling along. It doesn't matter how ragged the leaves of a transplanted tree look, or even if they lose all their leaves upon transplant. The most important thing in using the month of October (as a landscaping re-do) is root establishment. And unless your backside is glued to the lounge chair watching football continuously, I don't think you'll ever find weather more comfortable to work in.
What if you aren't a do-it-yourselfer? Fear not, since almost every landscape company that actually knows what they are doing also believes that October and early November can be one of the best opportunities to revamp landscapes, they are ready to get busy working for you today. I don't necessarily mean that they will work in this September heat, transplanting trees and shrubs. However, they can get busy working on designs and scoping out potential drainage/irrigation problems. And statistically speaking, you can usually get a better deal from landscapers at this time of the year.
October is also the perfect time to be replacing plants lost due to this summer's drought, or for that matter gardening negligence. Plus, most nurseries have the lowest prices of the year on plant material. I don't think I'm giving away any industry secrets, but the nursery doesn't want to keep their stock in pots during the winter months. But if you get them planted into raised beds, they stand a much better chance of making it through the winter. As noted above, the shrubs don't have to look specimen-perfect for transplanting in the autumn months. Again, it's all about root establishment. If you get them established in fertile beds now, they will reward you in the spring with robust growth.
And October is bulb-buying month. They are in fresh supply, and provide welcome late winter and early spring color for the yard. Bulbs that can be planted right after purchasing include daffodils and the smaller flowered jonquils, species tulips and grape hyacinths. The larger showy tulips and hyacinths need to be refrigerated at least 45 to 60 days to provide enough chilling to bloom properly next year. Plant them anytime from last November through early January. This year's Houston Bulb and Plant Mart at the Westminster United Methodist Church (Bering & San Felipe) will be Thur., Fri. and Sat., October 6-8. Here's a website link for more details...
Finally, if all this seems like too much work for you, at the very least please use the autumn months to revamp your mulch in the bed. At least it will look a little like you've done some work to the landscape. And the ultimate benefit of the mulch addition is to protect root systems from future cold weather, prevent weeds and conserve precious moisture.
In case you have not ordered your copy of it yet, here's the link for ordering my new book "Gulf Coast Gardening with Randy Lemmon."
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon
on Talkradio 950 KPRC.