In the spirit of all things weather-related in 2015, it’s looking like we’re starting autumn earlier than normal this year. Sure, September rarely passes without good stretches of nice weather, but after the rain and stormy weather that came at the end of August, you’ve likely seen a lot of your plants starting to show the weariness of a season nearly over. As you gear up for autumn, here are some tasks to set about doing around the yard and garden.

First, it’s time to show your lawn a little love. Whether you’ve let your grass go brown over summer or kept it somewhat green with regular watering, now is the time to feed. Especially if you haven’t fed your lawn since spring, once your grass starts to grow again this fall, it’s going to be hungry!

Chances are, you’ll soon start to see ads for winterizing fertilizer, but like I’ve written before, it’s still way too early for that. Right now, your lawn is waking up from summer dormancy, so give it a hearty feeding with Scotts Turf Builder or Turf Builder with Moss Control. Later this fall—anytime from late October until early December—you can apply winterizing fertilizer, but given the stress of this summer, your grass needs the extra nutrients that a spring and summer fertilizer like Turf Builder offers.

Second, September is the time to overseed your lawn to fill in bare, dead or thin spots. Typically, homeowners who choose not to water their grass during summer still have healthy lawns come fall; even during dry summers we usually get enough rain to sustain a lawn’s root system. This year was different, however, and as your lawn starts to green up with the milder, wet weather, you might be surprised to see areas of your lawn that don’t come back.

If entire swaths of your yard stay brown this fall, you may have to consider replacing your lawn altogether. If the brown spots are minimal, though, you can overseed. In those areas, use a stiff landscape rake to remove as much of the dead grass as possible and expose some soil. Spread grass seed and starter fertilizer and then crumble a light layer of peat moss over top to hold in moisture. Lightly water the areas you’ve seeded regularly to avoid wide swings between wet and dry and in approximately a week you should see grass sprouting.

At Vander Giessen’s, we carry all the supplies you need for reseeding your lawn, including our own Vander Giessen Mix grass seed blend, as well as starter fertilizer, peat moss, and if you need it, topsoil. And if you’re planning to redo your yard entirely, we rent out large landscape rakes and lawn rollers to help you get the job done right.

As autumn approaches, now is also the time to start planting shrubs, trees and perennials around your yard. Autumn’s cooler weather is ideal for transplanting just about anything into your yard, so take advantage of the changing seasons to get some new plants in the ground.

Whatever you’re planting, remember that the soil you plant in will make a huge difference in the longevity of your plants. Whether you have heavier clay soil or very sandy soil, your plants will benefit from some organic compost or Black Gold soil conditioner mixed in the hole around each plant. Both compost and soil conditioner help to loosen clay soils and hold moisture in sandy, porous soil.

Finally, add some fresh color to your porch or patio! If you’ve kept your flowers going strong through the heat of summer, kudos to you, but even the best care is no match for a windstorm or heavy rains like we’ve had. Replant your pots with winter pansies—or better yet, Cool Wave trailing pansies—and be rewarded with an abundance of flowers through fall, winter and well into next spring.

At Vander Giessen’s, our greenhouse is full of fresh color for autumn, whether you’re looking for pansies, mums, asters, cabbage, kale or ornamental grasses. Stop in, pick out a pot and let us help you fill it to make your front porch look beautiful.

A new season is upon us, so make the most of it this fall and enjoy the opportunity to work in the yard and garden without the risk of heatstroke!