As you start preparing your landscape and garden for cool months ahead, there are some critical tasks of the fall. Here is this week’s list.

• Finish dividing spring-flowering perennials, including violets, candytuft, thrift and Louisiana phlox, Shasta daisies, iris, daylilies, purple coneflowers, gloriosa daisies and others.
• Pansies, violas, pinks, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and kale and other cold-hardy annual color can be planted now.
• Nursery stock while selections are still outstanding and as nurseries begin their end-of-season sales. This is the very best month of the year to plant woody plants into your landscape. The only exception I would make would be for plants known to be tender to winter’s cold in your area.
• Tulips and Dutch hyacinths can be bought now, but they need to go into the fridge at 45 degrees for the next two months, then planted mid-December. They will not bloom normally without the “pre-chilling” treatment. Daffodils and grape hyacinths can be planted immediately.

• Shape houseplants and hanging baskets that you intend to bring indoors for the winter. You won’t have to bring them inside until the first freeze threatens them, but you’ll have them ready if you remove the lanky branches now.
• Erratic shoots from shrubs and vines, but save major reshaping for mid-winter.
• Dead or damaged branches from shade trees before they go bare for the winter.
• Lawn to keep it at the same height you’ve been using all summer and fall. Letting grass grow tall in the fall does not improve its winter hardiness. It actually weakens the grass allowing weeds to invade in the process.

• Fescue and rye with high-nitrogen fertilizer to promote vigorous growth this fall.
• Winter annuals with high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food for quickest possible take off. Repeat weekly until weather turns really cold. South Texas gardeners can probably feed all winter long.

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