Gardening on the cheap: 5 tips for fall
So the weather's cooler. There still may be things to plant — and garden bargains to pursue.
Late October isn't exactly your garden's proudest hour. That's often fine, as it whittles down your weekend yard tasks to raking leaves off it and discovering that the smell near that now-barren plant does in fact come from a decomposing critter.
But even before winter-prep season kicks into full swing, your garden may benefit from your extra attention. Acting now may even save you a few extra bucks.
The Daily Green's "The Green Cheapskate" blog recently shared advice on how to stretch garden season while stretching your hard-earned dollar. In fact, author Jeff Yeager calls this the "best time of year for all kinds of garden activities."
Here's a look at his five tips.
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- Buy plants: Especially in large stores, floor space devoted to plants and garden supplies throughout the spring becomes the Holiday Junk Department come October, if not earlier. This is a great month to score discounted plants that stores may not care to winterize, Yeager writes. It's also prime time for scoring and planting iris rhizomes and tulip and crocus bulbs. Don't have the time to get them going yet? Good Housekeeping suggests storing bulbs in a warm spot before the chill hits. They should be kept in an environment that's 40 degrees or warmer.
- Buy equipment: Same rationale as with buying plants on the cheap. You also can use these tools for last-minute projects: Unless you're in suddenly snowy Denver or a similarly cold climate, the ground may still be warm enough for easy digging and strong root growth, Yeager says. If you've been itching all summer to lay down some sod, this also may be your last chance for a while.
- Separate plants: Mature perennials can be divided in the fall, which can be a cost-effective way of growing your garden and ensuring its health. Where to start: "Perennials should first be thoroughly watered and the entire plant dug out of the ground, with its root ball intact," Yeager writes. "The root ball should then be separated into smaller plants by pulling it apart with a pitchfork or, in some cases, even cutting it apart with a shovel or other sharp tool. The smaller plants should then be immediately replanted in the ground and watered again."
- Get composting and mulching: If you don't have a compost pile, this may be time to start one. It could be a good home for all the stuff you're raking up in the yard these days. Got hayrides in your area? Yeager suggests grabbing some excess straw after Halloween. It makes good mulch. (Bing:Discover more mulching tips and guidelines)
- Put your toys away: This doesn't mean dumping all your garden tools in the back of the shed. By cleaning, sharpening and polishing them first, you can save yourself from another purchase in the spring. And maintenance doesn't have to be costly; Yeager says aluminum foil and charcoal can do the trick, in many cases.
Another tip: This may be a good time to trim those trees. Winter storms are on the horizon — yeah, we're on to you, La Niña. Ice, wind and snow may soon turn today's innocuous branches into tomorrow's insurance disasters. Just think of how busy — and pricey — tree-removal agencies will be in the next few months.
If you're trimming trees near power lines, call your local utility first. It could take care of the job for you.
— Tony Stasiek is a producer/editor at MSN Real Estate.
Yes, they are basic to us seasoned gardeners, but you have to remember that there are always new gardeners out there eager to learn them.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.