5 Steps To Successful Fall Planting: How To Landscape With The Season

Posted on Sep 3, 2015

As the seasons change and nighttime temperatures fall, it’s tempting to forget about the outdoors and begin to nest in the home. Though we love to invest lots of energy into creating beautiful interior spaces, fall is a fantastic season to create, supplement or renovate exterior landscapes.

That’s because the cooling air temperatures send a message to plants that it’s time to start going dormant because winter is coming. Plants steer their energy from leaf production, flowering and fruiting, into root growth and fortification. And since the soil temperatures stay warm longer than the air, it’s an ideal time for root development. Trees, shrubs and perennials planted this time of year will establish strong root systems and be prepared to flourish come spring.

5 Steps to Successful Fall Planting

Our landscape design team relish fall as an opportunity for planting. Here are their top 5 tips to make your fall planting fun and fruitful.

5 Steps To Successful Fall Planting

1 – Watch the weather and make a fall planting plan

Just like in summer, new plantings are tender, and harsh weather can lead to failure. Try to plant in the morning, and avoid planting when daytime temperatures are supposed to be high (anyone remember the intense heat wave a few Septembers back?). Overcast days are best, as humidity tends to be higher and the sun won’t zap the leaves of your new plants.

September is the time to plan, and late September through mid November is your ideal window for planting. Take this time to visit nurseries (many of which have fall sales) to collect your specimens. Spend time in your yard and garden to identify the best places for planting. What’s your sun exposure like, and what do each of your new plants require? We like to draw a map and make a detailed planting plan before we begin to make sure every plant gets what it needs.

2 – “Mud in” your new fall plantings and mulch over perennials

Place each new planting in its hole, and water two or three times before you start adding soil (ideally a mix of fresh dirt and compost). Once you’ve completely buried your new plant, water again a few times to get the soil nice and saturated. This helps rid the soil of any air pockets, which aids in overwintering.

A bit later in fall as they begin to die back, give your perennials a good mulching over with a nice thick layer of mulch. This further insulates them from the winter and ensures that they’ll come back healthy next spring.

Crocosmia - Fall Planting

Crocosmia makes a colorful showing in late summer and early fall.

3 – Get your veggies

Don’t abandon that veggie patch! Short-season, cool weather crops are great for fall planting. Plus, waiting to harvest root vegetables until mid-late fall makes them taste sweeter. It’s true. Some of our favorites for early September planting are radishes, heirloom lettuces, spinach and rainbow chard.

4 – Don’t forget the bulbs

Spring-blooming bulbs need a cool dormancy period in order to thrive and produce in the spring – making it essential to include them on your fall planting plan. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have a great selection of hardy bulbs. Double check your zone before planting, and then get bulbs in the ground so that they can become established, go dormant, and give you a fantastic show of color come springtime. Since bulbs are amongst the first plants to come up and bloom in the spring, We like to put bulbs along borders, and in places where they’ll get a lot of attention.

5 – Think big

If you’ve ever lost a tree, you might be hesitant to make the investment in your landscape – especially since, as plants shed their leaves and perennials die back (in the case of deciduous plants), you won’t have the immediate gratification that you’d have in spring or summer. Put in the time to plant trees and shrubs in fall so that you can reap the benefits come next summer. Success rates are much higher this time of year and maintenance required is lower (since the rain and cool temperatures keep roots moist), and so this is a great time to invest in your landscape.

Dream big! Imagine the all of the possibilities available to you if you follow through with fall planting – harvesting fruit trees, shading under a conifer, cutting your own gorgeous flowers and more await. And if you plant in fall, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labors for years to come.

Share photos and stories from your fall garden with us in the comments! And feel free to ask for advice – we love answering questions.


  1. Jackie Oliver
    February 23, 2016

    I really like what you said about thinking about the big picture when planting your yard. This is something I really need to work on. I need to step back, figure out what I want in the whole yard, and then start to plant. Right now, I will see a cute plant, put it in my flower bed, and call it good. This next season, I will be sure to do a lot more planning.

    • Jesse
      February 25, 2016

      Hey Jackie – So glad you found the post helpful! Best of luck and happy gardening!

      Jesse – Pistils Nursery

  2. Daniela
    June 21, 2016

    I think so many people forget that taking care of your landscape is a key factor in keeping everything “alive & well” So many key factors can make or break our beautiful landscaped yards, whether edible or not, and you really keyed in on whats important for the upkeep. Thanks for the article!

    • Jesse
      July 7, 2016

      You’re welcome! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Janette
    September 26, 2016

    Even though this post is from last year, I read this just in time for fall 2016! thanks for the great read! -Janette

    • Jesse
      October 20, 2016

      You’re welcome! Thanks for the kind words.


  4. Bob Lockwood
    October 28, 2016

    Planting trees in the fall is the healthiest way for the tree to take hold, is what my dad always used to say. He was a first rate arborist, I am a second generation tree guy but I wouldn’t consider myself an arborist. I have seen so many trees lately that were planted either too close to the house or too close to the driveway and the homeowner ends up calling us out to cut the trees down. So if you’re planning your yard please put the trees in a strategic spot away from the house or driveways and you will have a long happy relationship with your trees.

    • Jesse
      January 4, 2017

      Thanks, Bob!

  5. d
    November 18, 2016

    I really like your third tip “get your veggies.” I think that is something that a lot of our neighbors do because they have the best veggies in our their gardens. We have been thinking about doing some planting in the fall when we do our landscaping. I’ll have to keep these tips in mind, thanks!

    • Jesse
      January 4, 2017

      Glad the article was useful to you! Happy New Year!

  6. jresquival
    December 22, 2016

    That’s a good tip to watch the forecast before planting. You wouldn’t want to plant in an out of season heatwave or during an early flurry. I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I visit the nursery.

  7. Matt Parks
    May 10, 2017

    Great article to bookmark for the fall season. Thanks for the good read.

  8. Steve
    January 14, 2018

    A really good read, I just wished i read your article before i started planting haha! 🙁

  9. James
    October 4, 2018

    been making the rounds on all of these planting and garden planning blogs and yours really helped. Keep posting!

  10. Charles
    November 27, 2018

    I enjoy getting new ideas online to try! Thanks for the posting!

  11. Giovanni
    November 27, 2018

    I always like to change up my front walk area with new flowers each season. I Love the pop of color and with endless choices to choose from , it makes it fun!

  12. Erik Larson
    November 27, 2018

    Seasonal veggie planting is my favorite. I prefer planting my own than buying store bought…who wouldn’t if you had the choice, and you can try such a vast array of new veggies that you sometimes can’t buy, but from a farmers market!

  13. John
    November 27, 2018

    #5!! Trees that bare fruit should be on your list if you’re going to plant your heavenly garden of Eden! I grew up eating off the fruit trees in my grandparent’s backyard, and my grandkids will too reap the benefits of my yard!

  14. Bruno
    November 27, 2018

    I always seem to miss the mark on getting the bulbs planted at the right time. Maybe it’s the area I live in, or maybe I’m just not cut out to plant bulbs!

  15. rohit aggarwal
    January 28, 2019

    Thanks for the information


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