Marianne Binetti

Time to yank out the petunias if they’re looking ragged, but keep watering the rhodies

September is the start of our second spring.

If you love outdoor living, then remember that this is the month that traditionally has the best weather for working, relaxing and dining outdoors. This is a great month to refreshing your landscape with new plants. Time to shift gears from “summer doldrums” to “fresh sweep” September.

Here are the Top 10 things to do before the autumn weather turns cold, wet and windy:

1. Yank out any annual or bedding plants that are summer-weary, seedy and sad. Life is too short to put up with ugly plants. Nurseries are restocking with fresh autumn color now. Keep growing.

2. Stop fertilizing roses and other perennials but do apply a “slow release” fall and winter lawn food to your grass as soon as the rains return later this month. Fall is the most important time to feed lawns in Western Washington, but too much nitrogen ends up in our water supply.

3. Clean gutters, apply moss and mildew-repelling sprays to roof and hardscape if needed. Now is your last chance to have the roof cleaned, repaired or replaced before winter.

4. Harvest tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn, apples and anything else that is edible before the bounty starts to rot on the vine. Your local food bank will take your extra food.

5. Keep watering rhododendrons and azaleas this month if you want maximum blooms next spring. They need at least one inch of water a week if rain does not fall.

6. If your hanging petunia baskets are still looking good, continue to feed, water and prune them lightly a few inches each week. You can keep your annual baskets looking good until October with lots of attention late in the season. (If you are tired of caring for your baskets by now, just let them dry out until they wilt and look ugly. Then you will be guilt-free when you dump the ugly things onto the compost pile.)

7. Use a broom to sweep your outdoor living spaces of spiders and their webs. Don’t kill the spiders as they are doing good things in your garden. Instead just wipe the web and spider-filled broom onto a tree trunk or shrub. You just need to relocate the insect-eating spiders away from the house.

8. Do not trim hedges, prune back roses or do major transplanting this month unless really necessary. Pruning stimulates growth and winter is coming. New growth is tender.

9. Dig perennial weeds such as dandelions and blackberry vines from your lawn and landscape. The more you weed this month, the less weeds you’ll have in spring.

10. Celebrate the change in seasons. Buy mum plants, sedum “Autumn Joy,” ornamental cabbage and kale and notice what trees and shrubs are turning color. Nurseries have great sales in the fall, so this is the time to add Japanese maples, burning bushes and hydrangeas to the landscape.

Fall into a second spring as you freshen up the landscape.

Reach Marianne Binetti through her website at or write to her at P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw WA 98022.

Meet Marianne

Sept. 14, 10 a.m., Windmill Gardens, Sumner, “Smart Gardening Ideas for Fall.” Free but must register at 253-863-5843.