I’m distressed that some of the plants in my perennial garden are really overgrown and crowded. What should I do? — J. K., Wellesley, MA
Fall is an excellent time to transplant perennials such as hosta, daylily, peony, iris, and a multitude of others that you can readily divide. By autumn most plants have attained their full size for the year and are finishing their annual growth.
Warm soils let roots establish themselves before winter and give transplants a head start on next spring. It’s generally safe to divide and move almost any perennial after frost has killed back the top growth, or often earlier. Plus, it presents a fine opportunity to try growing the divisions in new locations.
This is also the ideal time to plan for next year’s garden. Take some digital photos of the crowded areas in your yard, and draw a diagram showing the location of each species. You might even take notes to recall which color combinations and progressions of bloom and foliage pleased your eye this year and which you’d like to improve.
What groundcovers should I put down to keep my yard looking trim while boosting its overall health? T. C., via e-mail
Lawns are a great solution. Mowing controls weeds, and your lawns don’t have to be big consumers of water, fertilizer, or pesticides. Among groundcovers, low-growing junipers and bearberry prefer sunny areas and tolerate sandy soils; they need little attention once established. Euonymus, Baltic ivy, pachysandra, carpet bugle, and spurge do well in heavier soils enriched with humus, and they also tolerate some shade. With the right care, each will grow into a solid mat in a few seasons.
R. Wayne Mezitt is chairman of Weston Nurseries, Hopkinton, MA
Read more: Organic Lawn Care