GARDEN TIME with DOUG – September Gardening Chores


From a meteorological and a green industry standpoint, September 1 marks the beginning of the fall season.  Fall is officially here on Monday, September 23.

There is so much going on with gardening now that September is here.  I am glad that September is here and that the weather and heat challenges of August are in our past.  I am not one to complain but August was hot and a little dry.  It seemed that I was having to water my container gardens and hanging baskets every day.


  • Kids are back in school and off to college.  This makes it a good time to get back to work in the yard.  The perfect window for lawn renovation is now through mid-November.  The first step is to do core aeration of the lawn in order to help loosen the compaction of the lawn soil.  Follow this task with overseeding the lawn with a good quality grass seed and a starter fertilizer.
  • Fall vegetables are here.  Now is the time to plant your fall vegetable garden with the cold crop vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.  these leafy vegetables enjoy the cooler, fall temperatures.
  • September is a good month to dig up and divide your perennials – especially daylilies and irises.
  • NO PRUNING – do not prune any evergreens or spring-blooming shrubs this time of year.  Pruning in September will alert the plant to put out new growth.
  • Spring flowering bulbs – daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, etc –  have arrived.  We have a great selection and September through October is a good planting season for these beauties.

Let’s make this fall a successful planting season.  The Great Big Greenhouse can be your headquarters for all your plants and plant products not to mention our helpful, knowledgeable staff.  Come see us!!!

To read more posts from Doug, visit our blog

22 thoughts on “GARDEN TIME with DOUG – September Gardening Chores”

  1. Hello! I have shrubs, I believe they are false cypress or gold mop. I pruned them in the spring but boy, have they gotten huge. You said now is not a good time to prune due to forcing new growth. Am I stuck with these overgrown bushes until spring? How detrimental would it be to trim them? Thanks so much!

    • Lisa,
      In the long run, this is going to be a constant battle for you to keep these Gold Mop Cypress to a size that you like. They are obviously very happy and growing nicely. A beautiful plant but maybe in the wrong location. It seems that you are unhappy with the size and would rather not wait until spring. Go ahead and prune them down now and let’s hope any new growth will not be hurt by cold, winter days . Doug

  2. I have read something that said that trees, should not be topped or thinned. In the past my Husband always did this. What is your advice?

    • Carolyn,
      There is a gardening trend that I support which is to let plants grow naturally without being altered with pruning. This trend only works as long as have the plant in a space that allows it to grow naturally. Now, with this said, sometimes pruning is needed. But, it all depends on the type of tree. The best time to prune or thin out branches is during the dormant months (November thru February) when you can clearly see the skeletal structure of the tree and make wise selection of the limbs to be thinned or the limbs that need to be topped. I know this is a long answer to your question but I hope you understand the importance of timing and the reason for topping or thinning. Doug

    • Jane,
      In general, this is not the time to be pruning hydrangea plants. Pruning now will be cutting off the flower wood for next years’ blooms. This is a very common mistake people make when pruning and then they wonder why their hydrangeas don’t bloom. Bottom line, my advice is to hold off on trimming until next spring once they finished blooming. Doug

  3. I have rose bushes. Can I cut them back in the fall. They are very thin and wild looking. Would like them to be fuller

    • Carol,
      Great timely question. Late fall (not now) is the time to cut back roses in order to get them shaped up and ready for next years’ new growth and blooms.Doug

  4. When is a Good time to prune Korean Dogwood and Crepe Myrtle trees . I purchased a crepe myrtle from Chantilly in June. Want to thin out small branches.

    • Michele,
      Good to hear from you. I am not one to advocate pruning shrubs or trees unless absolutely necessary. However, with this said, sometimes plants need some attention. Your first question the timing of pruning a Kousa dogwood. If you are wanting to just thin out some branching or “limb” it up then I would suggest waiting until later this fall once the leaves fall so that you can see the complete skeletal structure of the tree. I would not recommend doing a general overall pruning of the tree for fear that you will be cutting off the flower wood for next year. As for the Crape Myrtle tree. Anytime during the dormant state (Nov. – Feb.) is a good time to thin out branches on the tree. This will not interfere with the blooming cycle since crape myrtles bloom off the new growth that comes out in the spring. Doug

  5. My azalea and rhododendrum plants have overgrown their locations. They are 20+ yrs old. I was unable to trim them this spring and they look so “unkept” presently. How far back can azaleas be trimmed? and when?

    • Robin,
      You do not want to prune azaleas or rhododendrons this time of year. They have already set their flower buds for next spring bloom. The proper time to prune back azaleas and rhododendrons are right after they finish blooming. As for pruning advice. You prune off no more than one third of the plant. The way you prune is important. You want to use pruners and you want to trim off branches where they come off the parent branch and work the plant down by the one third. Then you can repeat this procedure the following year until you get the plants to the height that you desire. Also – after blooming is a very important time to feed the azaleas and rhododendrons with a good quality food such as Espoma Holly Tone or Espoma Azalea Tone. I hope you can live with how the look until later next spring. Doug

  6. Thanks for the lawn tips… feel like I’m on ‘Try #37’ with getting a GRASS lawn (fescue) not a WEED and clover lawn. 😉 Thanks for breaking it out to each month of Fall. I shall try… again. Here’s hoping Spring 2020 is GREEN GRASS.

    • Wendy,
      That is good information on lawn care. As I tell everyone right now, we are dry. Our surface soil is dry. We have not had some good soaking rainfall for a while. You may want to pre-water your lawn before you put out seed and the starter fertilizer. Get some moisture in the soil. Then, the key to good and quick germination will be watering. With our warm soil temperature along with good watering, you should have germination within a week to ten days. Doug

  7. Thanks, Doug! Appreciate that input.

    LOVE your blog. And my favorite (because life is so nuts) is the checklists or reminders of what we’re supposed to be doing right now — like I have a raised bed garden, still putting out tomatoes, but I will try to do spinach as that has done well in the past, I just never think (til it’s too late) about FALL PLANTING. So THANK YOU for nudging our brains. 🙂

    • Wendy,
      Thank you for your kind comments. There are many things that I love about the plant industry but one thing that sticks out the most is the learning curve in that you are always learning. Love it!!

    • Rose,
      Rhododendrons are relatively shallow rooted plants. If this rhododendron is relatively new in the ground then you should be able to get most, if not all, of the root system. We are in a moderate drought situation now. Our surface soil is dry. And, we are still warm. If possible, I would recommend waiting until mid-October before doing the transplanting. Be sure the soil around the rhodo is watered well before digging. Have the new location prepped and ready so that your rhodo does not sit out of ground. Water again as you re-plant. Let me know if you have any further questions. Doug

  8. I believe my yard has been invaded by quack grass. There’s too much now to try and dig it all out. Aside from killing everything, are there any other remedies I could try to get rid of it? My original thought was to try and put down a bunch of fescue seed to try and smother it out. Thoughts?

    Thanks for all the great info you put out

    • Steve,
      First, thank you for reading our blogs and taking the time to send us your questions. As for QuackGrass… I am no weed expert. But, what I know about QuackGrass is that it can become very invasive and it is very difficult to control. It takes persistence on your part to keep it under control. I remember being told that a herbicide that has glysophate is effective. But, you don’t want to broadcast spray the herbicide but instead spray the QuackGrass only. One expert even suggested to take a paint brush and brush the QuackGrass with the herbicide. This way you are not killing everything that you spray. If you are asking yourself what is glysophate – the product RoundUp is made with glysophate. As long as you are careful RoundUp can be a very affective product to kill and to start controlling the spread of QuackGrass. Good luck, Doug

  9. OK – I think I’m somewhat miffed when I read this post. One and a half weeks ago I went into the Leesburg store to specifically ask advice about pruning my Schip Laurels. My question was, is it too late in the season was my question? The guy I spoke to – he was a tall guy and middle aged – said, “Not at all – prune them for another month or so.” So, I came home and pruned all eight of them. BTW, I’m a big fan of Meadows Farms and most of the folks are helpful. I’ve spent thousands of dollars buying shrubs and flowers, including these schip laurels, as well as having had Meadow Farms install a number of trees in my current and previous property. But now I read that I SHOULDN’T be pruning evergreens in September. Have I damaged them? Stopped their growth in the process of trying to encourage their growth?

    • Jonathan,
      Rest assure that you will lose your Schip Laurels. But, I still stand behind my advice in not pruning evergreens, such as Schip Laurels, this time of year. You could see new growth come out on your Schips because of your pruning. To be honest, you may lose this new growth due to a frost or a freeze in a month. Also, don’t expect too much flowering next spring as you may have cut off the flowering wood on your Schip Laurels – which isn’t the end of the world either. Smitty is a good person and has a wealth of plant knowledge to share with his customers. It’s just a different in opinion about the timing of pruning evergreens. Doug

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