Savannah Botanical Blog

raking 2756006

Fall is the time of year for pumpkins and hot cocoa, sweaters and boots. It’s also the perfect time to winterize your lawn and garden so they’re ready for spring. With a few good hours of maintenance, you’ll maximize your lush lawn and beautiful flowers and veggies next year.

Preparing your lawn

If you haven’t yet, rake your yard or vacuum up the leaves with a leaf catcher attachment on your mower. You can compost them or spread them out on the lawn and mow over them to shred them into pieces, which can then be raked into flower beds for mulch. Remove any broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, which can compete with grass for nutrients and water.
If you are raking your leaves, you can dethatch the lawn at the same time by running the tines through the top level of soil to loosen it. If you mow instead or have turf that will be disturbed by dethatching, aerate the soil to remove small plugs of dirt. This also loosens the top soil, allowing for better absorption of water and nutrients. This should be done approximately one month before the first frost, so mid-October for the south and earlier in northern climates. Finally, lower the blade setting on your lawn mower to the lowest setting for the last two mowings of the year to enable the grass to absorb the most sunlight.

Fertilize your lawn to feed it before the winter, preferably with a slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. Caution: If you need to use herbicide, note that selective herbicides target specific seeds or weeds, whereas non-selective herbicides destroy everything green. When you can, use spot treatments of all-natural formulations such as horticultural vinegar or clove oil. Not only will these do less damage to surrounding plant life, but your bees and beneficial insects will thank you as well.

Fill in bald spots in your yard with a lawn repair mixture of grass seed, quick start fertilizer, and organic mulch. Water these patches thoroughly and every other day for two weeks, and water your lawn weekly if you’re not getting rain. This time of year, plants absorb as much water and nutrients as possible to prepare for winter. This is also the time of year to plant trees and shrubs so that they develop deep roots before summer’s heat. Lightly prune any dead or damaged limbs, and protect the trunks of small trees and shrubs with wire mesh to keep away pests.

Preparing your garden

If you have a vegetable garden, pull any remaining plant life after you harvest. Till the soil and cover with mulch or fall vegetables like lettuce, broccoli and spinach. Walk around and assess your flower garden. Which plants did well? Are any overgrowing their space? Now is the time to divide perennials or overgrown plants and replant the more vigorous clumps, throwing away any diseased plants and composting the rest. Weed your garden area and deadhead spent blossoms. Remove annuals and dig up non-hardy bulbs, and consider planting garlic or cool weather annuals. Apply mulch after the first freeze to protect the soil and keep weeds away.

In cooler climates, plant spring flowering bulbs in October. In warmer areas, refrigerate the bulbs and plant in mid-to-late November. Clean out debris under roses and protect them by mounding dirt over their central crown or bud; don’t prune them. Replace summer plants in window boxes with cool weather flowers.

Other Fall maintenance tips

Prepare your tools for winter by cleaning the mower and gardening tools and oiling the metal. Clean your storage area and get rid of dated materials such as insecticide. Cover your compost bin or pile. Drain and bring in your garden hose and turn off the water at the source. Empty fountains and drip irrigation systems. Refill bird feeders to encourage birds to stick around and eat insects. Move container plants indoors. If you’re growing herbs, harvest and dry them or move them indoors to a well-lighted setting. Finally, prepare your snow blower for use.

This seems like a lot of work, but it’s not. You’re literally laying the groundwork for a stronger lawn and garden system in the spring. Your plants will be sturdier and you will be happier. 

Maria Cannon
Treating Depression With Gardening

Millions of Americans suffer from depression, and while there are many different ways to keep it at bay, more and more people are discovering that the simple act of gardening can really make a difference.

“There’s no doubt that being outside in the fresh air, being in touch with nature, feeling the seasons and watching plants grow and flower can do your mental wellbeing wonders. Having good mental wellbeing (or mental health) is just as vital as physical health, reducing your risk of depression or anxiety. In fact, why not prescribe gardening for depression? Doctors prescribe gym referrals; why not allotment referrals? Not only can gardening boost mental health, a good stint of digging and wedding is also great exercise,” says Dr. Paul Zollinger-Read.

According to several studies, playing and working in the dirt--and specifically, a bacteria that grows in soil called Mycobacterium vaccae--can boost your mood and serotonin levels, which keep us happy. Serotonin is a natural anti-depressant and can help keep your immune system in good shape, so it might just be that gardening is good for you all the way around.

If you have a spot on your property, clear a little room and figure out what you want to grow. Specific breeds of flowers can help with depression, too, so do a little research and find the right seeds and roots. Read on to find out more about how gardening can help with depression.

It’s great exercise

People who suffer from depression usually have a very hard time getting up and moving. Depression is more than just a mood disorder; it affects us physically and mentally and can make even simple tasks like taking a shower seem monumental. However, daily exercise is extremely important, and gardening is a great way to get in a workout. Thirty minutes of working in the dirt per day can help boost your mood, keep you focused, and leave you feeling accomplished, which is great for your self-esteem.

It can help you get healthy

Depending on what you choose to grow, gardening can help you get healthy and stick with a healthier lifestyle. That’s because you can plant veggies and have a harvest when they’re ready, meaning you can eat organic and take pride in what you bring to your table because you used your own two hands to grow it. Eating a balanced diet is extremely important for individuals who live with depression, and when you start eating what you grow, it can help you start looking for healthy choices elsewhere, as well, such as switching to whole grains and cutting refined sugars from your diet.

It can help you sleep better

Working out in the sun and getting your hands dirty tires you out, which means you’ll sleep better at night. Many people who suffer from depression have a hard time with sleep and often, their sleep cycles trade places without warning. Spending time in the garden can help even things out.

It’ll make you happy

Working in the garden can boost your mood simply because you’ll be amongst the beauty of nature, working hard and seeing the fruits of your labor. Plant colorful flowers, and healthy veggies to get the full effect of an instant mood boost.

Depression is a life-altering disorder, and there is never an easy fix. It’s imperative that you push to find relief, though, as depression can sometimes lead to addiction and other life-threatening conditions. Many people use therapy, counseling, and medication (or a combination of the three) several times a week and still battle the effects. However, if you enjoy working outdoors and are interested in finding a way to lift your mood that can provide you with a healthier lifestyle at the same time, consider starting a garden (If you’re new to gardening not to worry, here are some great tips to help you get started). Go ahead and test out your green thumb! It might just be the best thing you ever did.
Maria Cannon

SACGC Information

Savannah Botanical Garden
1388 Eisenhower Drive
Savannah, Ga. 31406
(912) 355-3883


Contact: Betty Ward

(912) 355-3883


Access to all public areas of the garden is FREE, however, a small fee may be required for groups of 10 or more.


Open daylight hours 7 days a week - year round.

Savannah Botanical Gardens

The SACGC, Inc. Botanical Garden is owned and operated by Savannah Area Council of Garden Clubs, Inc. The site was conceived and designed in the late 1980's as an all volunteer effort and is located just minutes from Savannah's Historic District.

The garden includes both formal and naturalistic plantings as well as a two acre pond, amphitheater, nature trails, archaeological exhibit and the historic Reinhard House.

Savannah Botanical Gardens Info

1388 Eisenhower Drive
Savannah, Georgia 31406
(912) 355-3883


Mon - Sat: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
Sun: 8:00 am - 8:45 pm


Access to all public areas of the garden is FREE, however, a small fee may be required for groups of 10 or more.