Fall Planting in Austin – Give Your Plants a Fighting Chance!

As we all know, keeping up with our yards here in Texas can be a full-time job. So, when it comes to fall planting in Austin, we want to ensure we’re doing it right — so we don’t have to waste time and money later down the road.

And did you know that fall is actually the best time of year to plant things? Around here, heat kills more often than cold. This idea feels wrong since, just about every year, there is a hard freeze that kills some stuff. But, over time, heat will suck the life out of your plants, even more so than “cold events.” Heat doesn’t kill “all at once,” but it kills and damages more of our landscape over time.

  • What makes a plant resilient? Root Development.
  • And when do plants put their energy into root development? The fall. Plants are “smart” and know the growing season is ending, so they use this season to put energy into their roots.

That’s why this time of year is root development season. Here is a good rule-of-thumb for small to medium-sized plants: the first three months are about survival, the next three months are about root development, then it’s about growing. So if you plant in spring, you won’t always see results in the spring. Plant now, and you’ll be glad you did next year! Here are some tips for maintenance and fall planting in Austin.

A recent project fall planting in Austin
These trees and shrubs will have an optimal chance to establish themselves after a recent fall planting project.

Have a Plan Before You Plant

We know how fun it is to go to the nursery and pick out new trees, shrubs, flowers, and hedges. But be sure to check out how big or tall they grow, how much sun they need, and how thirsty they get. A well-designed space will incorporate all of these factors with aesthetics.

Fall is also a great time to freshen up your flower beds by raking out debris, pulling weeds, and adding some mulch to enrich the soil. You can also “deadhead” flowers to produce more blooms and replace ones that have seen better days. As the temperature starts cooling down, you can plant snapdragons, petunias, calendulas, sweet alyssum, dianthus, chrysanthemums, bluebonnets, ornamental cabbage, and kale to liven up your beds and add color — even though some of them won’t start to poke up until spring.

Butterflies are amazing to watch, so you may want a pollinator garden. Select flowers and shrubs that attract them, and they will be fluttering about in your yard in the spring.

When should you plant shrubs and trees in Austin?

Trees will also benefit from fall planting in Austin because like we said: root development! Trees are your best friend in the Austin heat, providing shade and shelter for birds and creatures.

A lot goes into planting trees and shrubs, especially with lackluster soil conditions. For more on planting, go here. Shrubs are also best planted now and will provide decor and privacy from neighbors.

Fall planting in Austin, with mulch, stones, and native plants
Exposed beds out by the street can be especially vulnerable to summer heat. Give new plants a fighting chance by planting them ahead of time in the fall!

Fall Tree and Shrub Trimming and Care

You’ll also want to do a little check-up on your trees in the fall. Check for branches that are crossing or low-hanging. Get rid of any suckers, dead limbs, or safety hazards like limbs that can cause damage to the house.

If you find anything out of reach, we’re happy to help! We provide tree trimming and pruning for anything we can reach with a pole saw or ladder.

Shrubs and hedges also need to be trimmed, and fall is a good time to do it. Your shrubs will look fuller and healthier going into winter.

Your Grass Will Be Greener if You Show it Some Love

Finally, your grass can breathe a little sigh of relief from the scorching heat! As temperatures cool down, your grass may have some brown spots. So what can you do to perk it back up?

  • Aerate – grass roots and soil can get compacted, especially in clay-heavy soil, making it hard for your lawn to breathe. Aerating loosens the soil so air and water can go deeper into the roots. If you’ve never aerated your lawn, learn more here.
  • Top Dress – yes, lawns like to get dressed up too! We spread our topsoil and compost mix ¼  inch thick to give your grass a boost of nutrients. Find out more about top dressing and what it can do for your lawn.
  • Fertilization and Weed Control – The same goes for grass as trees and plants. Fall is an important time to repair and reestablish roots before the winter. Fertilizing now gives it the extra kick it needs to grow strong in the spring. Remember, weeds can also take hold in the fall, so applying a pre-emergent weed barrier knocks them out before they can take hold. More info on fertilization and weed control is here.
  • Irrigation – as it gets cooler, you may think you need to water less, but watering is still important. (If you’re still using a hose and a sprinkler to water, think about having us install an irrigation system 🙂
Fall is the perfect time for bed maintenance and fresh mulch — though you might want to wait until after your trees drop their leaves!

Decorate and Get Creative

Maybe this fall is the time to finally add a flagstone patio, a vegetable garden where you can have some peas and quiet, or some decorative walking paths — something just for you.

If any of these fall planting and enhancement projects seem a little too big or time-consuming for you, let us know! We’d love to help get your yard all spruced up in time for the holidays.

Rocks and flagstones can be “planted” year-round, but truth be told, we definitely prefer hauling those stones when the weather’s cooler!