South Charlotte

Now's the time to rehabilitate and plan yards

This summer's heat has taken a toll on local plants and trees.

The good news is that, with a little help, many plants will grow new leaves and revitalize in the cooler weather.

And fall is not far away.

So now is the time to rehabilitate plants that suffered this summer. It's also time to make plans for fall planting.

Fall also is the time to reseed lawns and spruce up landscaping.

Before fall planting, garden experts suggest some minor pruning.

The pruning should be more like trimming hair than a major cut - just snipping off dead and dying leaves, said Jeff Charles, a nurseryman at Southern Styles Nursery & Garden on Rea Road.

"Just touch them up a little," said Charles, who said plants such as azaleas and camellias should not be pruned now.

"A lot of plants have defoliated or look rough from these temperatures," said Brian Stubbs, who works in sales at Latham's Nursery in Monroe.

Stubbs suggests the "fingernail test" to check whether a plant or tree branch is dead. Scratch back the top of the bark; if it's green underneath, the plant is doing fine and will grow more leaves.

Garden centers throughout the area now are stocking trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials for fall.

Many nurseries, including Latham's, grow their own plants.

There's a time between summer and fall when it's not a good time to plant; that's the time for planning, said David Blankenberg, a landscape designer at Pine Lake Nursery & Landscaping in Matthews.

Mid-September to mid-October is the window for aerating soil and reseeding. That gives grass time to establish strong roots before the next summer.

Garden experts also recommend spreading lime and fertilizer as lawns are reseeded.

Trees and shrubbery are best planted later in the year.

Landscape designers look at everything from lot size to sun exposure when helping homeowners choose and place plants.

"Get a road map now and know what you're doing, so when it comes time, you're ready to execute," said Blankenberg.

Instead of just "throwing a tree in the corner of a yard," planning can help homeowners choose a tree that won't grow too large, he said.

Nurseries should be fully stocked in October and November with everything from maple trees to pansies.

Southern Styles already has nuttall oak trees that will be 18 feet tall when planted, and Latham's is carrying a new line of low-maintenance rose bushes.

Many nursery staff members have years of experience working with plants and can provide advice and direction. Nursery staff also will deliver and install plants.

For homeowners wanting to try their hand at gardening, advice usually is free.

"We encourage people to come in and do it themselves," Charles said.

"We can educate them on how to do it."