Gardening tips as we head toward the fall equinox

The first day of autumn begins with the autumnal equinox on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 2:30 a.m. This is when the sun passes directly over the equator from the north to the south, and when days become shorter than nights. This means we will have less time to get things done while working outside.

We need to carefully budget our limited time with daylight wisely because there is still a lot that can be done to make sure our yards and landscapes are prepared for winter.

This week, I would like to give you some random tips as we head into fall.

Gardening tips for fall 2023

Our landscapes and lawns are very thirsty. The last few years, we have found ourselves in weather patterns when we have had timely rains in the summer months. Then September arrives and the clouds dry up. September is traditionally one of the driest months of the year. This surprised me when I looked this up a few years ago.

We need moisture in our soil and in our lawns for grass seed to grow. We also need it to activate the fertilizer we are applying. You should give your lawn a good soaking before seeding and/or fertilizing. Do it a day or two before, so the water can soak in. Then after applying the fertilizer and seed, water again to moisten the seed and activate the fertilizer.

Also, when it comes to seeding and fertilizing, you should know they can be done at the same time. I recommend using a three-step lawn program which has an application of high nitrogen fertilizer that needs to be applied in September. This is also the best time of the year to seed, and we receive a lot of questions from cautious gardeners who are concerned that the fertilizer will hurt or burn the new grass as it comes up. This should not happen if you have applied the fertilizer correctly. In fact, the fertilizer will be a benefit to the new grass as it starts to grow.

This week at the store, we discovered that a male deer, a buck, had already gotten to a couple of our trees, causing damage by rubbing his antlers on the trunks. This is something everyone with new, young trees should be concerned about. Bucks do this as an exercise to prepare for fights they will have with other bucks in the coming mating season.

Any tree with a trunk that is less than 4 inches in diameter should be protected. You should use a deer guard made out of a rigid plastic mesh that fits around the trunk. It should be secured tightly with zip ties. Make sure the guard covers the trunk from the base to the start of the branches.

If you have a tree with multiple trunks such as magnolia or serviceberry, you will need to install what is called “deer fencing” around these trees. Deer fencing is a type of plastic netting that is six feet tall and supported by wooden stakes.

One last tip: When we get into the beginning of October, the availability of flowers becomes very limited. Most of the flowers are sold before the end of October. There isn’t anything wrong with letting your summer flowers grow as long as they can. However, if you want a nice display of fall flowers, plan on making the transition in the beginning of October.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Gardening tips as we head into fall equinox