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Cheap and Easy Fall Gardening Tips

End-of-season discounts help you flex your green thumb

Frugal gardeners know that fall is the best time of the year in many parts of the country when it comes to ideal gardening conditions and getting the most green for your hard-earned greenbacks.

With end-of-season discounts on nursery stock as well as lawn and garden supplies, don't hang up your hoe for the season before you take advantage of some of these money-saving opportunities:

Jeff Yeager shares cheap gardening tips for the fall season

Don't be too quick to put away your pruning shears and other gardening equipment after Labor Day. — Photo by Frederik Broden

Plant perennials: With moderate temperatures and generally increasing rainfall, fall is a good time to plant trees, shrubs, and many other perennial plants in most U.S. climate zones. The soil is nice and warm, which promotes good root growth, and — unlike in the spring — young upstarts don't face the potential of a long, hot, dry summer. Plant perennials in the fall and they can get established before going dormant for a winter's nap. Best of all, you can find terrific bargains on perennial garden stock, as nurseries and garden centers liquidate their summertime inventory to make way for mums, pumpkins and, eventually, Christmas trees.

Lawns and sod: Don't forget that the grass in your yard is probably a perennial variety, so fall is also the perfect time in most areas of the country to seed or reseed lawns and even install new sod. Because most people only think about having a lush, green lawn in the spring and summer, you can sometimes negotiate a lower rate on sod installation in the fall. And if you're looking to sign or renew an annual contract for lawn care services, you're likely to get a better deal in the fall — when lawn companies are hurting for business — than if you wait until next spring.

Divide and multiply: Even though I'm an avid gardener, I buy very few new plants. Instead, I propagate many of the plants I already have — making more plants out of my existing stock — and swap extra plants with friends and neighbors. Fall is an ideal time for dividing many perennials as well as for transplanting. Dividing mature perennials not only gets you new plants, but if done correctly, it actually improves the health of the parent plant. Do your research in advance to determine which types of perennials should be divided in the fall and the best methods for doing so. In general, perennials should first be thoroughly watered and the entire plant dug out of the ground, with its root ball intact. The root ball should then be separated into smaller plants by pulling it apart with a pitch fork or, in some cases, cutting it apart with a shovel or other sharp tool. The separated plants should then be immediately replanted in the ground and watered again.

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