Fall is around the corner, and you may be welcoming in the pumpkin spice and sweaters, but you can keep your yard looking beautiful for a little bit longer. Once the month turns to September, many of us get excited for the cool fall season, but Utah is going to be warm for a while longer. Extend your beautiful summer garden into the early fall months with these tips.
- Water wisely – Utah has seen water restrictions all summer, so watering wisely has been imperative. Continue this effort for the next few weeks by watering in the early morning hours. This gives your plants vital moisture while also allowing time for the water to reach their roots before it evaporates in the heat of the day.
- Strategically mow lawns – During extra hot times, raise the cutting height of your mower and cut your grass in the cool evening. Mowing later in the day allows the lawn more time to recover throughout the night. Leaving your grass a little longer keeps the roots cooler, providing a healthy lawn overall.
- Spend a little time weeding – By September, we’re starting to get tired of yardwork, but avoiding the task of pulling weeds will only make the job harder. Pulling young weeds is much easier than working with them after they’ve established strong roots.
- Deadhead perennials – As flowers fade, deadhead them right away to extend their life. Deadheading forces the plant’s energy to be sent to buds rather than seeding, which is what they want to do this time of year. This allows the flowers to keep blooming and look beautiful longer.
- Prune – Later summer and fall is good a time shape bushes, shrubs, or trees. Remove suckers to prevent them from stunting your tree’s growth. Shaping brushes and shrubs will promote more flower growth and thicker foliage. Be careful with extensive pruning of trees—this is often best left to a professional.
- Keep up on pests – Aphids are typically thriving right now, so keep a watch for them. If you catch them when they’re small, they’re fairly easy to get rid of. Spray the populations off the plant with a strong stream of water from hose to dislodge them from the plant.
- Mulch – Mulching is a benefit any time of the year, but in the late summer you can amp it up by using lawn clippings in your vegetable garden, for example, as it comes to its final production stages for the year. If you have potatoes in your garden, adding a layer of mulch will protect the vegetable well into the cold.
- Divide your plants – Some plants, such as peonies and day lilies, are happier plants if you divide them in the late summer or fall. Gently pull apart some of the roots with your hands and cut them back with a sharp knife. Doing this keeps the plant healthier because there is more space for roots to grow and absorb water and nutrients.
If you need help finishing the blooming year off right, come in to The Dirt Bag for the highest quality products.
You don’t have to be a coffee drinker to enjoy the benefits of using the grounds in your garden. Many local coffee shops will sell or give away used coffee grounds just for gardeners’ use. Used coffee grounds contain nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, which are good nutrients for your soil. Plus, it feels good to reuse something that would otherwise just sit in a landfill.
Think of the grounds as a periodic fertilizer. You can take the grounds and simply sprinkle them directly onto the soil. Then disperse them using a rake or lightly work them into the soil enough so that the grounds won’t harden on top and not seep through. Make sure you don’t rinse the grounds first. You want fresh, unwashed coffee grounds to get the right effect. You can also make a liquid to pour into the soil. A good ratio is about two cups of coffee grounds with five gallons of water, let it sit overnight, then pour away this liquid black gold.
Do All Plants Like Coffee Grounds?
Because coffee is acidic, you’ll want to use the grounds for acid-loving plants in particular. The grounds will lower the pH level of your soil, which causes it to be more acidic. (Read our other blog here for more information on pH levels.) Plants and flowers such as azaleas, roses, hollies, hydrangeas, and lilies will thrive with coffee grounds. However, tomatoes or rhododendrons may be a little more sensitive to the acidic nature and develop brown leaf tips if they come in contact with the grounds. Avoid applying grounds when your plants are still seeds, as it can affect germination. Give them some time to grow for a bit first. Coffee grounds can also be good for grass. It helps grass look greener and grow longer, which is certainly a priority here in Utah. Experts suggest you take some caution with using grounds. Too much and you can actually burn your plants. Using the ratio above (two cups of grounds to five gallons of water) should protect your plants from too much nitrogen.
Deter Bad Bugs
Many gardeners use coffee grounds as a natural bug repellant. They will help keep slugs and snails away because of the abrasive nature of the grounds. However, they will help attract earthworms, which are beneficial to your plants. The earthworm is the single most beneficial organism for soil health. They decompose organic matter, increase soil aeration and infiltration, and encourage water movement and nutrient cycling. Worms love coffee grounds, so welcome them by using them wherever applicable.
If you don’t have coffee grounds in your house, visit some local coffee shops and you’ll likely see some bags for sell at a bargain. If you don’t, simply ask the barista. Many shops love sharing their grounds with the community because they understand the many benefits. If you want to get started using grounds in your garden but you’re still nervous about adding too much nitrogen, come in and talk to one of our specialists to get advice for your particular garden situation.