Gardening Tips

In The Garden – September-October gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.


• Now is a great time to plant perennials. Add a slow-release fertilizer. Make sure the plants are well watered before and after planting. Continue to divide plants like hosta, daylilies, phlox, Shasta daisies and ornamental grasses.

• Buy spring-flowering bulbs, but don’t plant these until the soil temperature drops below 60 degrees – usually in November. Store the bulbs in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Fruits and Vegetables

• Plant fall vegetables, such as mustard greens, onions, radishes, turnips and more, in September. Harvest fall vegetables as they ripen, preferably early in the day when the temperature is cooler.

• Plant fruit tress and blueberries.


• Fall is when tall fescue and bluegrass lawns should be seeded. Remember to mulch any newly seeded bare-ground areas with wheat or barley straw. Keep watered. Evaluate other lawn options if your grass continually struggles. Try ground covers or new landscaping.

• Watch for the emergence of cool season weeds. Two of the worst are wild onion and wild garlic. Hand pulling is often ineffective. Digging is more effective and chemical control is another method.

Trees and Shrubs

• Limit pruning woody plants until they acclimate to the cooler season. Pruning now will encourage new growth. Prune only for minor shaping of the plant.

• Premature fall color or premature leaf drop could be a sign of stress on the tree. Determine the cause of the stress – injury, lack of water, poor nutrients – and remedy accordingly.


• Be on the lookout as a number of insects start to make an appearance including fall webworms, fall armyworms, azalea stem borers, and two-spotted spider mites, Fire ants begin to forage again with the cooler weather. Once they are in this stage you can apply bait around the mound.

For a complete list of garden maintenance activities, visit the NC Cooperative Extension web site at

For lawn care go to the NC State Turf Files at