Fall is an excellent time to spend in your garden in Texas.

Experienced gardeners often say that the September and October weather is their reward for the July and August heat. I couldn't agree more. The pleasant weather and lower nighttime temperatures of fall mean we have a second chance to evaluate, plan, and prepare our landscapes.

One thing to do now is to inspect your garden to see how it weathered the summer sun. Which plants thrived? Which plants succumbed to the heat and humidity? Where has excess water or dry soil taken a toll? Take into consideration areas that you will need to rework. Adding fresh mulch or compost to these areas before planting anything new will help enrich the soil and prepare for the winter ahead.

Autumn is also the perfect time to remove spent annuals, replace old perennials and add new plants to the landscape. Perennials and shrubs are ideal for fall planting. They will have time to establish a strong root structure before the chill of winter arrives and grow more robust next spring. If you want to make more of your favorite plants, fall is the time to divide perennials and propagate semi-hardwood cuttings.

When adding seasonal color, choose annuals like dianthus, pentas, zinnias, calendula, aster and salvias that can bridge the gap from warmer to cooler seasons. Natives such as Gregg's mistflower, blackfoot daisy and pink skullcap perform well in the garden and provide nectar-rich food sources for pollinators.

Herbs are also perfect for Harris County area fall gardens. Cooking staples like thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley and lavender respond well to slightly cooler temperatures. If you're looking for less common herbs, consider planting deliciously tart sorrel to add a new dimension to your herb garden and meal planning.

Most importantly, while planning your fall landscape, make sure to slow down and enjoy the garden. It will help keep you in tune with the needs of your yard and plants. All can learn so much from simply stopping and watching nature unfold.

Come out and see other gardeners at the Harris County Master Gardener tent at Mercer's Pollinator Festival and Fall Plant Sale Saturday, Oct. 2. Our tent will be in the plant sale area. Garden experts will be available to answer your gardening questions from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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