Transition your garden and prep for winter months

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With the weather changing to cooler nights and shorter days, we still can do some gardening at this time of year. We still can plant perennials, pansies, violas, foxglove and sweet Williams in our flower gardens for color now and in the spring and summer.

We need to clean out any old dead plants or plants that look spent. Consider adding some lime to your flower beds to help raise the pH of the soil for next year's gardening efforts, as lime takes three to four months to raise the levels.

You can also apply lime to St. Augustine, Bermuda or Zoysia grass to raise the pH of the soil as these grasses like a pH of 6.0 to 6.6. You can do a soil test through the extension service to see how much you will need.

At the same time, apply a light layer of new mulch to the flower beds and shrub beds to give them a finished look.

Now is a good time to plant new shrubs and trees in the landscape, because the roots will keep growing as long as the soil temperature stays above 40 degrees. Therefore, the roots will develop a large system over the winter months and help the plant be better established for next year's summer months.

With lawns slowing down in growth, we do not have to mow as often, but we still should mow some to collect the leaves that fall. If fallen leaves build up on the lawn, they keep moisture close to the runners of our grass, which can cause disease problems later.

Do not drop the mower height, because you can damage the grass in cold weather by exposing the runners and allowing more weed seeds to germinate.

Now is a good time to apply a weed killer to get rid of any leftover summer weeds and any winter weeds that have germinated or are about to germinate.

Be careful about pruning early spring blooming shrubs now, as their blooms have been set for next spring. If you do some leveling of shrubs now, the new growth that can develop later might be damaged by cold weather. If you have a few odd shoots that are long, cut them back individually into the shrub.

Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.s

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