Fall is an excellent time to assess your landscape as it has reached full maturity. This time of year provides an opportunity to evaluate what is and what can be in the garden.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you walk around your landscape.
Begin by standing back and taking a critical look. Does the landscape please you? Are you fond of what you see? What stands out? Is it an asset, or does it detract?
I like to photograph the garden and print the photos. Then I can make notes and record my thoughts. This helps me come spring.
Do the shrubs need pruning? Have the secondary players or the perennials gotten out of hand? Are there any unsightly holes that need to be filled? These are all questions to start the planning process.
As I walk my landscape, I evaluate the plants. My personal philosophy is life is too short for ugly plants. If a plant does not bring me pleasure, it’s out. This philosophy can range from the old, tired looking plants to one needing continual maintenance. Why put up with it?
After 10 to 15 years, many shrubs start to look tired. Even as an avid gardener, I have my limits. I love to prune but at some point, enough is enough. Just like a fresh coat of paint updates a room, plants need updating as well.
A great example is burning bush euonymus. This plant is prized for about one week of red fall color. The rest of the year the plant goes unnoticed. The plant gets big and, in many cases, needs repeated pruning to keep it in bounds. The more it is pruned, the more tired it becomes.
Ask yourself this question: Is the plant worth the old, overgrown look for one week out of the year?
Burning bush dates the landscape as they were vogue in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Instead of just tolerating it, get it out of there to give the garden a facelift.
Updating plants is just one note to make on your photos. I like to start my spring maintenance list on this walk as well. In the perennial garden, make a list of plants that need to be divided or relocated for the best look.
In the vegetable garden, make notes of successes and failures.
Was the variety of tomato a hit or miss? Make notes of where plants were grown so that the garden can be rotated. Did you plant too much of this and not enough of that? Jot it down so you don’t depend on your memory.
Take advantage of a fall day. Go for a walk, snap a few pictures and start your to-do list. When spring arrives and you are itching to get outside, you will know just where to start for another season in the garden.
Trust me, you will be glad you did.
Dennis Patton is a horticulture agent with Kansas State University Research and Extension. Got a question for him or other university extension experts? Email them to email@example.com.