It makes sense that most people want to start a garden in the spring—the weather is lovely and the April showers make for healthy, lush plants. But then summer arrives and fries those new and vulnerable roots that you just spent so much time nurturing.
Moral of the story: fall is a much better time to get seedlings started. Our winter here in South Texas isn’t cold enough to freeze most plants, so your garden is safe from cold weather damage and has the ability to grow big and strong before the major heat kicks in next summer.
Here are some tips for ensuring a successful fall planting season:
Start by tidying up summer beds
Begin the transition to your fall garden by cleaning up what you already have growing. That means pruning back your flowering perennials, especially roses and salvias, by 1/4 to 1/3 to encourage a fresh, new flush of growth and flowers. Be cautious, however, not to trim fall-blooming perennials such as the Mexican mint marigold or the vibrant fall aster. These plants work hard all year to put on one beautiful show. It’s also time for a hearty helping of nutrition. Adding compost to your lawn and garden will replace nutrients that were used up during the summer or washed away by frequent watering. Next, consider adding a generous blanket of moisture-conserving, temperature-stabilizing mulch to all plantings.
Revamp that vegetable garden
Growing your own food? This is the time to freshen up your crop so it’s ready for the winter. Replace overgrown or pest infested summer crops with cold-hardy transplants such as broccoli, spinach and sugar snap peas. Continue the satisfaction of utilizing your own garden to create flavorful meals by planting autumn-savvy herbs such as cilantro, dill, parsley and chives.
Make no mistake; this is by far the best time of year to plant perennials. The gentle weather gives new roots a healthy start with less of a struggle. Trees and shrubs planted during the autumn season will continue to grow below the soil and establish their root systems, making them less vulnerable to that first blast of summer heat. So sharpen your shears, bring out the shovels and make the most of this charming season we know as fall.
Fall planting ideas
With so many options for what to plant in the fall, we’ve narrowed it down to some favorites:
Setting a strong foundation
Out of sight, out of mind—it can be easy to forget about what’s underneath, but oftentimes, it’s the most important part. With gardening, you have to make sure the roots are taken care of or you won’t reap the benefit of what grows up above. With that in mind, SAWS puts a major priority on taking care of San Antonio’s infrastructure by maintaining, inspecting, and cleaning more than 12,000 miles of water and sewer pipes found underneath the city. That’s because a strong foundation is the key to ensuring what appears up above—the water from your faucet—is of the highest quality.