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LifestyleColumnistsJessica Damiano

A September calendar for gardeners

Labor Day weekend is the time for the

Labor Day weekend is the time for the last fertilizer application of the season for established lawns. Use a slow-release product for best results. Credit: iStock

The annuals may be fading, and the harvest is slowing down, but this is no time for gardeners to rest on their laurels. Instead, we need to get busy transplanting and planting to give roots enough time to settle in before frost hits, and weeding and watering to cut down on cleanup work in spring and help trees and shrubs make it through winter.

And that's just a start. Here are 30 chores to keep you busy every day of the month.

1. It's Labor Day -- time for the last fertilizer application of the season for established lawns. Use a slow-release product for best results.

2. If you need to reseed or renovate the lawn, this is the ideal time to do so.

3. Pull weeds now -- by their roots -- before they disperse seeds.

4. Continue to water trees and shrubs, especially newly planted ones, until hard frost.

5. As a rule, leave peonies be. But if you must divide or move them, now is the time.

6. It's normal for the innermost needles of evergreen trees to turn brown and fall off.

7. Take cuttings of coleus and begonias to grow indoors until spring.

8. Plant separated, unpeeled garlic cloves, pointy ends up, two inches deep, 3-6 inches apart in full sun for harvesting next summer.

9. Divide lily of the valley, perennial phlox and other spring-blooming perennials.

10. If tomato plants are still producing blossoms, remove them so the plant can focus energy on ripening existing fruit.

11. Remove the lower leaves of tomato plants to allow more sunlight to reach fruit that needs to ripen before frost arrives.

12. Divide daylilies and transplant into garden gaps.

13. Test soil and add lime, if necessary, to raise the pH.

14. Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs. Removing buds now will mean fewer blooms next year.

15. Order spring bulbs for planting next month.

16. Harvest grapes.

17. If you stop deadheading roses now, hips will form. Leave them on plants for a pretty accent or (if not exposed to chemicals) use them in tea or jam.

18. Plant perennials now to allow time for them to become established before frost hits.

19. Bring in tender pond plants and keep them moist by a sunny window.

20. Rinse vacationing houseplants to remove insects, then bring indoors.

21. Plant witch hazel, red-twig dogwood, deciduous holly and beautyberry for winter interest.

22. It's the first day of fall. Make vegetable soup with the last of the summer crops.

23. When their tops flop over, dig up onions, cure in the sun three to five days, then store indoors in a cool, dry spot.

24. Cut down basil and parsley, pick off leaves, rinse and dry in a single layer on paper towels overnight. Then freeze in zippered bags.

25. Plant shrubs and water deeply. It's time to relocate existing ones, too.

26. Dig up gladiolus corms, elephant ears and cannas. Learn how to overwinter them at

27. Pot up rosemary, chives and parsley from the garden, bring indoors and place near a sunny window.

28. Don't let disease overwinter in the soil, where it will attack again next year. Rake, clean up and discard fallen leaves and plant debris.

29. Start planting trees when leaves in the neighborhood begin to change color.

30. Allow lawn clippings to remain on grass. They'll return nitrogen to the soil. Think of it as free fertilizer.

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