Garden: 3 Ways to Prep Your Yard for Fall

It doesn't take an army to get your yard ready for fall planting.

Cary, NC — Are you excited for fall? The temperatures will soon be out of the 90’s here in Cary, and that means fall planting in your garden is just around the corner.

Assess Your Yard

Before you can have fun with your spade and trowel, take a look around at the current state of your yard. Our near-drought conditions in late summer caused the loblolly pine trees to drop pine straw by the bushel, not to mention those awful pine cones and the “gumballs” from the sweet gum trees. Both are the bane of my existence.

Prep Your Yard for Fall – 3 Ways

Rake Away Debris

All of that debris must be raked from the yard and beds before you can start to plant anything new. While you are at it, rake off last spring’s blanket of mulch, too.

Old mulch can harbor critters or spread mold and fungus to your new fall seedlings. That’s right, early September is the time for a little elbow grease in the garden. But a little work now will yield you months of return through the end of the year.

Prep the Beds

Clear out all the old annuals and either mulch them or put them in an open garbage can at the curb for the Town of Cary Public Work teams to pick up on garbage day.

Clear your beds of old mulch, cut back dead stalks of perennials and pull all the dead or dying annuals. Amend the soil if it needs it. Add new compost or additional garden soil to have nice, plump-looking, full beds that are ready to plant.

Reseed The Lawn

Now is also the time to consider if your grass needs reseeding. In our Cary yard, we plan to do that almost every other year. You can reseed yourself or call a local expert. They know the weather and the best dates to seed. They will aerate for you, slit seed and fertilize all in the proper proportion. I leave it to the pros and trust a great Cary company.

In order to prep your yard for reseeding, you must rack up all the summer debris, dead grass, pine straw and leaves. Then, give it a good watering before the seed goes down. Once it has been seeded, you must water several days a week if we have a dry spell.

When To Plant in Cary?

  • Annuals such as mums and pansies do well in Cary if planted at the end of September through October. The nights are cooler and the daytime temps won’t wilt these flowers.
  • Bulbs should go in the ground a little later. They need the cold to store up and be ready for a brilliant show in the spring. Wait until at least mid-October. It’s tempting to purchase bulbs now if you see them in the garden centers, but hold off on planting them.
  • Perennials (those plants you can plant in the fall that will stay year after year) can be planted starting the end of September all the way through early November.
  • Trees are when excellent planted in the fall but can even be planted as late as January and February because our ground doesn’t freeze in the Piedmont.

Keep reading CaryCitizen, and look for our fall planting guide stories later this month and early October to discuss bulbs and perennials.


Story by Lindsey Chester. Read more gardening stories on CaryCitizen.


The Gardening Column on CaryCitizen is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Road in Cary.