Expert suggestions to get your yard ready for the change of seasons

“If you have tomatoes or peppers or things like that that are finishing out… or will be finished when we see our first frost, which will probably be in a few weeks, you can go ahead and start clearing them out,” she says.

She suggests replacing them with “cool-seasoned annuals like pansies, snapdragons, things like that that can handle the frost and give you a bit of color.”

At home and at UGA, O’Brien will be turning over flower beds and adding time-released fertilizer to the beds.

“You don’t have to use time-released fertilizer,” she says. “But it’s something I like to do.”

Planting with a plan

The first weeks of fall can be a prime time to revitalize your garden, but veteran nursery owner Perry Walker doesn’t suggest running off to your local garden center and buying whatever looks pretty.

Walker has owned and operated Walker Family Nursery in Jonesboro for 47 years; he says the place most homeowners go wrong is not having a plan.

“There are just so many varieties of plants… there’s a continuous amount of plants developed every year, and I know that’s confusing to the home owner, so go to a landscape designer and get a plan and then come to me and we’ll sit down and go through your plan and start doing it, either all at once or in parts,” Walker says. “I see more people buy the wrong plants, and they come to us and we don’t know what their house looks like.”

Walker notes that landscape plans are cheaper than most people realize and working with a professional can avoid years of frustration and lackluster results.

“You can get small landscape plans done from $125 to $300 and you can get big designs done from $300 to $500,” he says. “That’s really not a big investment when you’re looking at the appearance of your home…. I have yet to see anyone who had a plan who wasn’t pleased with it.”

O’Brien agreed that not having a plan, for fall planting and in general, is asking for failure.

“I think one thing I see people doing is not realizing that we have warm season annuals and cold season annuals here in Georgia. So they’re running to garden centers and buying these things, not good garden centers, but some of the big box stores will just put these out there to get rid of their inventory,” she says.

“I’m cautioning people not to spend money on these things unless they want them to be like cut flowers and not make it through the first frost.”

Helpful Hint: Compost

Gardeners can be both environmentally friendly and cost conscious by composting fall leaves instead of throwing them in the trash.

Maureen O’Brien of the UGA Founder’s Garden says it can be as easy as piling the leaves up near a corner of your house or deck that is sheltered from the wind; putting a little pine straw over them to keep them from blowing away; then simply waiting.

“When the winter is over that will be an excellent source of compost,” O’Brien says.


Top photo: Pansies can add a burst of fall color to yards, as well as container gardens on decks and patios. (Photo via