4 Money-Saving Fall Gardening Tips

Fall gardening will save time, money, and maintenance all year long. Though spring gets all the garden-center glory, fall is a far better time to invest in your landscape. Doing the work now can save you a bundle in upfront costs—and it will continue to pay dividends all year. Not only do autumn plantings require less water and fertilizer, they also will have that much more time to get established before the withering heat of summer, which in warm climates can easily kill new plants. Here’s what to do:

  1. Pick Up Plants For Less

Many nurseries put their stock on sale in the fall to avoid storing it over the winter. You can save 40% to 50% off the price of plants, grass seed, even tools. “Don’t worry if plants have a few brown leaves,” Pierson says. “Remove them from their pots and make sure the roots are vibrant and not mushy.”

2. Grow a Healthier Lawn

“Weed seeds don’t germinate in the fall, so you get a grace period now to get a new lawn started without competition,” says Wilmette, Ill., landscape architect Steve Kooyenga. Fall’s typically cooler and rainier weather is on your side for turf that will be thick and strong enough to outcompete most weeds in spring. Wait to seed until then, on the other hand, and you’ll probably have to repeat the treatment, at $50 to $100 a pop.

3. Fertilize Beds

Fall gardening could halve the amount of money and time you’ll spend fertilizing and watering over the next year. That’s because even as air temperatures drop, the ground remains warm, encouraging plants to focus their energy on root growth. And healthy roots mean more robust, more drought-resistant plants. Use a fertilizer with high levels of root-growth-promoting potassium.

4. Save On Spring Blooms

Fall is the only time you can plant spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, lilies, and hyacinths. Share a bulk order with your neighbors and you can drop the cost to about 50¢ a bulb, vs. $1 or $2. Nothing could be easier: Dig a small hole, and drop in a bulb. Cover with soil, and enjoy colorful flowers in the spot for years to come.

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