Gardening: Fall is the best time to work in the garden | Columnists

It is official, with the cooler weather and the shorter days, that fall is here.

And with the advent of fall, now is the best time to get started in the garden.

Whether starting from scratch or just fixing up and adding to a preexisting landscape, the cooler weather is the ideal time to begin.

Planting now as the weather cools down will allow trees and shrubs to establish before the heat of the summer.

Gardening can be daunting at first, but there are so many benefits from both the act of gardening and the garden itself, it can be truly rewarding.

There some steps to follow to ensure success and achieve the desired goals for the garden. And with these steps, the two most important are planning and soil preparation.

There are many different aspects to take into account in terms of starting a garden. You must recognize the amount of sun you have, the water flow and drainage of any area you are planting and the amount of area you must plant within.

What to grow

The next thing to do is determine what you want from the garden itself.

Planting fruit and vegetables require plenty of sunlight and space.

Planting ornamentals will depend on the desired look and what you want to attract in terms of wildlife.

What you want from the garden is key to how you proceed. Once this has been determined, then begin mapping out and planning what areas you plan to plant and cultivate.


A newly planted fig tree. Christopher Burtt/Provided 

There are many different types of gardens to choose from and many of these can be incorporated together.

Fruit and vegetable cultivation are one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening.

Planting trees such as loquats and figs provide easy access to delicious fruits not easily found in the local supermarket.

Vegetables such as spinach and broccoli cannot get more local than your own garden. Planting many of these will require plenty of sun. At least eight hours of full sun is needed for productive food crops.

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There is some work required in planning and coordinating harvests, so keep this in mind when deciding the purpose of your landscape.

Planting shrubs like blueberries also helps attract wildlife as well as provide fruit. Attracting wildlife is an exciting way to use any garden space.

Planting shrubs and trees such as wax myrtles and American beautyberry are a great way to attract birds to the yard. Continuous blooms from perennials and herbs attract an array of pollinators that help benefit everything around.


Continuous blooms from perennials and herbs attract different pollinators. Christopher Burtt/Provided 

These things can be done all while creating an interesting and alluring yard.

Creating an attractive ornamental landscape, with the proper planning, can create a personal paradise in which to enjoy and show off.

There are plenty of beautiful trees and shrubs that help produce a scenic backyard.

Prep the soil

Soil preparation is by far the most important step to successful plantings.

The ideal thing to do first though is a soil test to help determine which nutrients are abundant and which are missing, as well as the soil pH.

Once you know what you would like to plant, begin amending the soil and changing the pH to best fit the desired landscape.

Different plants may have different requirements for soil makeup.

Find out as much information about the plants before you plant to know what soil they require and the fertilizers to add after planting.

Preparing the area before planting requires the addition of organic matter, whether compost or other forms, which improve the overall composition of the soil.

Avoid adding fertilizers directly to any planting holes as this may damage roots and does not help the growth or establishment of the plants.

Online resources

Though getting started in the garden can be intimidating, there is a host of resources to utilize when in need.

  • The Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center website is an easy way to find information. You can find the website at
  • The Clemson Cooperative Extension is another resource. Extension agents are here to assist and provide nonbiased, scientifically based information. To find out a local extension agent, go to

Christopher Burtt is the Urban Horticulture Extension Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator for Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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