Gardening & Living in Grand Style
Fall gardening opportunities
by Michael Johnson
Utah State University Extension Agent, Grand County
Sep 20, 2018 | 563 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Another gardening season is fast approaching its end. Even those of us that absolutely love to garden will likely appreciate a bit of down time over the winter. However, don’t put away the gardening tools yet as there are some gardening opportunities (don’t think of them as additional chores), that when undertaken in the fall mean better results next year.

The first of these relates to cool season lawns, which include those fescue or bluegrass lawns found throughout the county. After a hot dry summer and family play time on the lawn, many cool season lawns need rejuvenating and fall is the best time. It’s best to start this process by using a core aerator on the lawn. The absolute best way to aerate is to water well 24 to 36 hours before you plan to aerate and then run the aerator in one direction and then at 90 degrees in the other direction.

Only aerating in one direction, as if you are mowing the lawn, is better than nothing, but not the best practice. Aerating will alleviate some of the compaction all lawns experience while opening the soil up for the other rejuvenating steps. The second step is to over-seed your lawn with your preferred grass type or blend, following the package directions. Pick a good fescue, bluegrass or blend, but try to stay away from those with “fillers” like annual ryegrass. The third step is to apply one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. An example would be if you used ammonium sulfate, which is 21-0-0, while one pound of actual nitrogen would be about five pounds of the product.

Since lawn grasses are all leaf they need this nitrogen to grow well, and a fall application also helps the plant build stronger roots. By aerating first, you open up the soil allowing some of the seed and fertilizer to make deeper soil contact. Finally, water well, keeping the seed moist for 14 to 21 days and you will have an improved lawn going into the winter and will have given it a great start for next spring.

September is the start of garlic planting time, which runs through mid-November. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil and plant single cloves of garlic about one to three inches deep and four inches apart. Remember that the bigger the clove the bigger the bulb next year. Planting in the fall will give you nice size garlic bulbs in August.

To limit pests and diseases on your fruit trees and in your vegetable garden, clean up fallen fruits, vegetables, twigs and leaves. Once you are finished picking for the season you should till any of this remaining plant material into your vegetable garden soil. This will add additional organic matter to your soil, which is always welcome. This would also be a great time to plant a cover crop. Some of the easiest to grow cover crops are grains such as winter rye, not to be confused with the annual or perennial ryegrass, or triticale. You can plant these into early November.

Cover crops help to keep the soil in place, hold nutrients and are visually pleasing during the cold winter. Then when the weather starts warming in late winter, they really start to grow. Cut and till them in at least a few weeks before you plan to plant your vegetable garden in the spring for a whole lot of quality organic matter and the additional nutrients held in the plants.

Previous articles can be found on The Times-Independent website. If you have a topic you would like to know more about, call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558 or email Mike at

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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