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Fall Planting for Beginner Gardeners

Hi y'all! Are there newer gardeners amongst us? We are all learners- & when it comes to gardening, it doesn't matter if you're experienced or beginning- there is always more to learn (one of the many reasons I love gardening!)! So today we are going to lay out some basics to help anyone who may be just buying their first home & wants to add landscaping, or maybe someone who just has never had the time or the want to garden but now they are becoming more interested. We're sure these tips will help get you started & as always, we are happy to help you at the Nursery.


Tip #1: Fall is the best time to plant.

Why is that? Simply because trees & shrubs have plenty of time to become acclimated to your soil & put down some roots before next Summer's heat begins. Can you plant in other seasons? Absolutely!! We are fortunate here in Middle TN to be able to plant really just about every season. Winter is a great time to plant also as long as the ground isn't frozen (or you'll be working really hard to dig that hole!). Spring is when many of us think about planting & that's a good time to- especially perennials, annuals, & warm weather vegetables. I personally have planted in Summer months also, & although not ideal, it is totally fine to do so as long as you are prepared to baby it & water deeply (which brings us to our next tip).

Tip #2: Deeply water newly planted plants every 3-4 days.

You need to water plants & trees in this fashion for about the first year it is planted, & then also during periods of drought after it is established. This way it will encourage deep, strong roots & a healthy plant. I do not have an irrigation system at my house, so I will put the hose on the base of a tree for about 30 minutes at a medium stream of water (I like doing that in the evening so I can just leave it going while I am making dinner or something). Early morning or evening are the best times to water.

Tip #3: You probably have clay in your soil.

Almost all of us do here in this area. If you dig & the dirt is hard as a brick & clay-looking... well, it is normal & there's a lot we can help with to amend that! Soil conditioner is a very inexpensive, great option to amend that clay (around $3-$4 a bag). Ask us at the Nursery how much you'll need for your space- a little goes a long way. You will mix that into the clay after you've taken your shovel & broken up the clay that's in your hole you've dug. So why is clay bad for plants? It tends to hold water- acting as a bowl with no way of draining water so your roots stay wet all the time & can then rot. Adding soil conditioner helps the soil be able to release that water.

Tip #4: Know your sunlight.

This is such an obvious one, but it is also easy to miss. You're busy, we are busy, & it is easy to shop for a plant for your area that you think only gets early morning sunlight each day... to find out your area actually gets all-morning sun & late afternoon sun (when it is hottest) so it scorches your newly planted plant that loves just a nice little bit of morning sun (did you catch all that or was I just rambling?!). What we are saying is, it's easy to think your area gets all day sun (for example), when it may only get morning sun, etc. Know your sunlight before you go plant shopping.

*Full sun= 6+ hours of sunlight a day OR morning shade with full afternoon sun (this is because, especially in Summer, afternoon sun is hotter than morning sun & is treated as full sun)

*Part sun= Morning sun/ afternoon shade

*Shade= pretty much all day shade (such as very filtered sunlight under a tree/ etc.)

Tip #5: If you're new to gardening, think about starting with easy-to-maintain plants.

Only a suggestion of course. There are SO many awesome plants out there that take very little to maintain & they are gorgeous! Here are just a few examples of beautiful easy-to-care for plants & trees:

  • Trees: Redbud, Dogwood, Maples, Crape Myrtles, Chaste tree

  • Shrubs: 'Limelight' Hydrangeas, Butterfly Bushes, many varieties of Roses, Azaleas, Boxwoods, Hollies, Crape Myrtle shrubs, Forsythia

  • Perennials: Black Eyed Susans, Coneflowers, Russian Sage, Sedum (look at 'Autumn Fire' or 'Autumn Joy': provides awesome- you guessed it- Autumnal color), Yarrow, Blanket flowers, Coreopsis, Hosta, Coral Bells (one of my faves for shade), Bleeding Heart, Solomon's Seal

  • Ornamental Grasses: pretty much any of them!

'Forest Pansy' Redbud

Tip #6: If you are digging an entirely new gardening bed, think about location.

Will this be a landscape to be enjoyed by your back deck? What about privacy- do you need larger evergreen shrubs as a screen from neighbors/ the road? Will this be visible from windows in your home- would you like Winter interest in your gardening bed to see from indoors when its cold? Will it be near a pool- you may want to consider plants such as evergreens & ornamental grasses that do not leave a mess in the pool. Just thinking through how this new gardening space will be used will probably have you coming up with creative ideas & give you a better design plan for your new bed.

Tip #7: Plant with full-year interest in mind.

If this is a gardening bed you will want to enjoy year-round, plan to add some plants that are pretty in cold weather. Evergreens always make a wonderful backdrop to deciduous plants in front, therefore in Winter, evergreens still have their leaves. There are many other plants that look amazing in Fall & Winter, including these here:

  • Fall interest: various types of Blueberry bushes, Dwarf Burning Bush, Crape Myrtles, Ornamental grasses, various Maples & Japanese Maples, various varieties of Sedum

  • Winter interest: Evergreens (Blue Atlas Cedar, Arborvitaes, Junipers, Aucuba, Boxwoods, & Hollies just to name a few!), Lenten Roses, Witch Hazel, Red or Yellow Twig Dogwoods

Red Twig Dogwood

Tip #8: Keep the plant's mature size in mind when planting.

Another seemingly obvious statement, but how many times have you seen landscape beds that are a little overly crowded? Many times, just taking out a couple of the plants in that bed would give everything a little more room to breathe. Many cottage-style gardens look fabulous with many plants but that is because they are adequately spaced out so they look great overflowing with abundance a few years down the road after they're planted.

Cottage-style Garden

No matter what style you're going for (if you have a particular one in mind!), remember that the mature size of the plant should be considered when space planning. Also know that it is common to overbuy plants, so if you aren't sure how many you need, start small & see- you can always come back for more!


We hope these tips help you when planting this Fall! If you're new to gardening, welcome to a most enjoyable, therapeutic, interesting hobby to get into! What questions or comments do you have for us? Please feel free to share below. We hope to see you soon at the Nursery!


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