September is probably my favorite time in the garden. The cool mornings give way to the afternoon sun’s warmth, which is pleasant rather than punishing. The lower angle of the sun softly backlights foliage and the plumes of ornamental grasses. September evenings provide just enough chill to light that fire pit, unused all summer due to the heat and humidity.
There is little that really needs to be done in the garden in September. Weed growth has slowed, and if you’ve pinched and dead-headed through the season, you can stop now and let the last blooms remain for the birds and for winter interest. It’s time to sit and enjoy the fruits of your labor and your garden’s last hurrah of the season.
But if you feel the need to stay active, or if you prefer your garden extra tidy, here are a few tasks that can be done at this time:
- Prune early summer-blooming shrubs as needed to control size. Fading Hydrangea flowers look nice into fall and early winter, so only prune if necessary.
- Dead-head (remove spent flowers and stems) Hosta and Daylilies, or any perennials that do not have erect flower stems, others can be left as seed heads for birds and winter interest. Cut back any dead foliage.
- Prune Boxwoods and other evergreen shrubs as needed to control size and shape.
But all this can wait. For now, sit, sip your coffee or your wine and savor the sweetness of the September garden.
Susan Olinger, APLD