Prepare Your Backyard for Autumn Birds

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet -

Is your backyard ready for fall birds?. 

Autumn is a beautiful season to be outdoors, and there are many backyard birding opportunities to take advantage of when temperatures drop and leaves change color – for birders who are ready for them. With just a few easy steps, you can prepare your backyard for fall birds and invite both residents and migrants to visit.

When Is Autumn?

The exact timing of autumn depends on many factors, but the calendar dates for the season are generally accepted as September 22 to December 20 in the Northern Hemisphere and March 1 to May 31 in the Southern Hemisphere. The further from the equator a birder’s backyard is located, however, the earlier autumn will set in, and higher elevations also experience the change of seasons more quickly. Watching for clues such as ripening harvests, changing foliage, shortening days and dropping temperatures can signal that autumn has arrived, and with it, fall migration and the opportunity to enjoy many autumn backyard birds.

Fall Preparations for Backyard Birds

Birds seek safe refuges in all seasons, and autumn birds are looking for good food sources, fresh water and secure shelter that can sustain them during an unpredictable season. By meeting birds’ basic needs not only with supplemental feeders, baths and houses but also with bird-friendly landscaping, backyard birders can provide an autumn sanctuary many bird species will appreciate.

Bird Feeders

Providing nutritious food in every season is essential for attracting backyard birds, but birds’ feeding preferences change seasonally.

To prepare your feeders for fall birds…

  • Thoroughly clean bird feeders and inspect them for damage after a busy breeding season. Make repairs as necessary.
  • Switch to larger capacity feeders such as the 2-In-1 Triple Tube Feeder or add more feeders to accommodate hungry migrating flocks.
  • Harvest any garden sunflowers to save them for winter before birds have eaten all the seeds, but leave a few flower heads for autumn birds to snack on.
The Easiest Way to Make Any Kind of Diagram. See Special Offer!
Know Your Rights & Get Your Free Concealed Carry Report Today!
  • Take steps to keep hummingbird nectar from freezing, but leave hummingbird feeders up for at least 1-2 weeks after the last hummingbird sighting so stragglers have a ready food source.
  • Since autumn tends to be a wetter season, add baffles or rain guards to feeders to help minimize moisture that can cause birdseed to spoil.

Bird Baths

Fresh water is welcome in every season, and offering water to birds will attract species that won’t come to bird feeders.

To prepare your bird baths for fall…

  • Clean baths frequently and keep them from clogging with fallen leaves, dirt or other debris that can contaminate the water.
  • To be sure birds are never without water, switch to heated bird baths later in fall when the risk of freezes and frosts increases.
  • Take additional steps to winterize bird baths long before winter actually arrives, which will make it easier to maintain the baths so they are always available to birds.

Bird Houses

While fall birds are no longer nesting, properly maintained bird houses can still be useful to birds in autumn.

To prepare your bird houses for autumn…

  • Take steps to winterize bird houses, such as adding a layer of wood shavings or switching convertible houses to a winter configuration.
  • Add bird roost boxes or other snug shelters to the backyard for overwintering birds to take advantage of.


The natural food, water and shelter in a well-planned landscape can be the best way to attract birds in autumn, but a little maintenance is necessary to be sure the yard is as useful to birds as possible.

To make your fall landscaping even more bird-friendly…

  • Leave the heads of seed-bearing flowers for birds intact and leave some fruits on trees to provide a ready food source for foraging fall visitors.
  • Leave some leaf litter available for the food, water and shelter it can provide birds.
  • Prune trees and shrubs minimally, leaving excess growth until spring so birds can take advantage of the shelter in the fall and winter.
  • Check any brush piles for decay and reinforce them with a new layer of branches or brush if necessary.
  • Plant new trees for birds, including evergreens that will be ideal autumn shelter.

An autumn-ready yard will not only help meet birds’ basic needs, but it will easily attract even more fall migrants, turning an already bountiful season into a very birdy one for every backyard birder.

Photo – Autumn Kinglet © Putneypics

Home Landscaping Tips for Building the Perfect Garden

Articles & Advice

Home Landscaping Tips for Building the Perfect Garden

by Andrea Davis


The landscaping around your home is more important than you may think. Properly done landscaping helps to protect your home from the dangers of excess water runoff, and well-done landscaping can increase the value of your home. There are some elements of your landscaping that you can do on your own, and then there are those tasks that are best left to professionals. There are also seasonal landscaping activities that can become traditions in your family that will go on for many years. The more effort and resources you put into landscaping your home and developing your garden, the more you will get out of it.

Your garden has to be placed in the right part of your yard if you want to get the best possible results. You cannot put your garden in an area that will be shaded from the sun for most of the day because that will inhibit the growth of your plants. You can always block the sunlight with a covering if you need to, but you cannot create sunlight where it is blocked by a building or a tree. Your garden should be in an area exposed to the sun and in a place that is easy to access with your water hose and sprinkler. Some people get very elaborate with their garden designs and add a multitude of colorful flowers. If you want to bring in a variety of flowers to your garden, then it is best to keep the garden away from your house, as some flowers tend to attract large insects.

To protect your garden, you can put up a fence that will keep out smaller animals. If you have problems with animals burrowing into your garden, then install your fence at least one foot below ground level to prevent burrowing animals from getting in. To keep out smaller birds that may try to feed on your plants, you can put reflective tape around your garden fence to help confuse and deter plant-eating birds. If you are having major issues with smaller birds dive-bombing your garden, then put up large owl boxes and other homes to attract predators that will keep the smaller birds away from your garden. The larger predators will not be interested in your plants, and the boxes may add some color and interest to your garden as well.

Your landscaping needs to be sloped away from your home to make sure that all runoff water goes away from your foundation. It is best to bring in a professional contractor to look over your landscaping and make sure that it is graded properly to protect your home. You can facilitate proper water runoff by mowing your lawn regularly to create pathways for the water to travel through. Mowing your lawn regularly will also help it to stay healthy and keep weeds and crabgrass from growing as well. A mowed lawn also enhances the look of your landscaping and gives more curb appeal to your home.

Landscaping lights powered by solar energy will enhance your lawn without adding to your monthly energy bill. You can also add small touches such as mulch and low fencing around the trees and shrubs on your lawn as well. The mulch will absorb and retain moisture that will keep your shrubs and trees healthy. Remember to have a professional tree-trimming company take care of your trees at least once a year to prevent the branches from growing too close to your home. Healthy shrubs and trees can also accommodate holiday decorations that add color and fun to your home during the holiday season. If you do notice that one of your trees is no longer growing leaves, then that tree should be removed immediately to prevent damage to your home and the possible spread of pests.

Your landscaping and garden are the first home elements people see when they visit you. When you take care of your landscaping and work hard to create the perfect garden, you will have a lawn that is worth bragging about. A professionally designed landscape can protect your home’s foundation from damage while keeping your trees and shrubs healthy at the same time. The regular maintenance you do to your garden and lawn are well worth it when you step back and take a look at the results you get.

Here are some resources that will give you a great start on the perfect garden and the ideal landscape for your home.


Read more:

Announcing the 2014 Employee Spirit Awards at Agway of Cape Cod

Announcing the 2014 Employee Spirit Awards at Agway of Cape Cod

The Wile family and management team at Agway of Cape Cod are proud to announce the winners of the 2014 Spirit of Agway Award for their stores.   This annual award is given to the employee who throughout the year best exemplifies the Spirit, Drive & Dedication that make our businesses a great success.

Only one employee from each of our locations is chosen annually to receive this honor.  Karen Bazan was awarded in the Orleans store this year. Since her start in 2013, she’s been driven, challenges herself everyday, and offers a smile to every customer and colleague regardless of challenges that may come her way.  Agway of Dennis proudly announced Rick Kucia as its spirit winner. Rick is an exceptional employee and we appreciate his consistent, quality service to our customers. In Chatham, the award was given to Ty Marchment. Ty is a true team player who gets the job done and is always happy to help. If you are having a down day, go and visit Ty – he will undoubtedly cheer you up with his smile!

Our special thanks to these three outstanding individuals for setting the standard. It is folks like these that personify the true Agway of CapeCod spirit.

Ty Marchment was awarded with the annual  employee Spirit Award in Chatham

Ty Marchment was awarded with the annual employee Spirit Award in Chatham

Rick Kucia was awarded with the annual  employee Spirit Award in Dennis

Rick Kucia was awarded with the annual employee Spirit Award in Dennis

Karen Bazan was awarded with the annual  employee Spirit Award in Orleans

Karen Bazan was awarded with the annual employee Spirit Award in Orleans

Container Gardening in Fall

Container Gardening in Fall

There are some special considerations when it comes to containers for fall color.

Contributors: Kerry Meyer
As summer slides into the dog days and heads towards fall, we may find ourselves thinking about freshening our container plantings.  Maybe the heat or vacations have left your planters looking less than stellar.  Maybe you’re simply tired of what you have and looking for a change or want to get rid of the pinks and purples you loved in spring in favor of the more Autumn-like yellows, reds and bronzes.  While the basics of design and care don’t really change for fall, there are a few things to consider.

Choosing Plants

In spring, you are likely choosing plants, at least partly, for their ability to withstand summer conditions – in other words, bright sun and hot temps.  When choosing plants for fall, their ability to withstand cool temperatures, including frost or even hard frost, is key to keeping your containers looking great for months.

Another trait to consider is the ability of the plant to bloom under shorter day-lengths.  Some plants need longer days to bloom.  The shorter days of fall and early winter can cause these plants to go out of bloom. There are plants that will bloom under shorter day lengths and do not mind, at all, if the temps get a bit frosty.  And, no you are NOT limited to mums, ornamental kale and pansies – although they are great plants for fall.  When looking at plants in our on-line database, plants that work for Fall are marked as having Fall Interest.

Fall is a great time to look to foliage for color.  There are many plants with foliage that is most colorful when the temps are cool. Heuchera, such as ourDolce® series is one example, as are most, but not all, ornamental grasses.  Foliage also adds color without the need for flowers.  However, not all foliage plants are good for Fall color – even some whose color palettes are perfect for Fall.  The two categories that immediately spring to mind are Coleus and Sweet Potato Vines.  The colors are pitch perfect and they seem to make perfect sense.  However, neither of them is at all frost tolerant – the first hint of frost is going to be damaging.

Hopefully your local garden centers are stocking plants that work for Fall, but it pays to ask questions of employees if you are uncertain about your potential purchases.


When potting up planters in spring, there are advantages to using fewer plants per container and leaving those plants plenty of room to grow.  But, Fall has a different set of circumstances.  While you are likely planting your containers while the temperatures are still quite warm, those temps are going to quickly begin cooling off.  As temperatures cool, plant growth slows or stops completely.  This means that plants potted up in the fall aren’t going to show the amazing growth you get from those planted in spring, despite potentially providing color for months.  Fresh container plantings for Fall is when stuffing your pot full of plant material, with little room for growth, makes sense.  How full the container looks when you plant it is pretty close to how full it will look all fall.

Watering and Fertilizing

As mentioned before, the cooler temperatures of fall will lead to less plant growth.  Well, cool temperatures and smaller plants also lead to plants using less water.  Less water used means you don’t need to water nearly as often as you’ve become accustomed to during the heat of summer.  As always it is best to check if a planter needs water before irrigating.  The deeper into fall you go, the less often you will need to water.  Water Your Way to Happy Plants is a great refresher on best practices for watering containers.  Don’t be surprised if you need to water only once or twice a week.

Fertilizing is also different in Fall and is likely unnecessary.  In spring, we suggest applying a controlled release fertilizer at the time of planting and then potentially supplementing with water-soluble fertilizer after a couple of months of growth.  However, many of the controlled release fertilizers release fertilizers partially dependent on temperature.  Colder temperatures means little to no fertilizer is released for plant use.  However, unless you are in the deep south or sun-belt areas where fall is very extended and temperatures remain warm, your plants will not be growing vigorously enough to need fertilizer applications.  If you do feel as if fertilizer would be helpful for your plants, an application of water-soluble fertilizer will be more effective than controlled or slow-release fertilizers.

Frost Protection

While choosing frost tolerant plants is necessary, you might also want to add an extra level of protection for your plants when night temps get get close to 32 degrees.  If temperatures are expected to get unusually chilly for a few nights, before rebounding back to average for that time of year, it might make sense to use an old sheet or other light-weight fabric to cover your plants.  While doing this every night as temperatures decrease will be quite labor intensive and unnecessary, a bit of effort for a few unusually cool nights might be well-worth the effort.


If you use heavy decorative containers for your plants, such as ceramic or concrete, removing old soil and putting in new soil can be, literally and figuratively, painful.  One way to make planting easier is to find lightweight plastic containers that are the right size and shape so you can plant the plastic container and then just drop it inside of your decorative container.  When you want to replant, simply pull out the plastic container, compost or discard the plants, refill and replant the plastic container and drop it back into the decorative planter.

You can take it one step further and buy two or more plastic containers for each decorative container.  A few weeks before you want to replace the current plant material, plant the extra liner.  This will get the new plants time to settle in, and then when you are ready you can remove and “replant” your decorative planter in no time at all.  This is also a great way to keep prominent containers looking fresh all summer, especially if you have an important event planned and want everything to look perfect.

Perennials in Pots

If you have perennials, or shrubs, in containers the article Pretty Potted Perennials covers the ins and outs specific to growing these types of plants in containers.

Labor Day Sales Flyer – August 27th to September 7th

Our Labor Day and early September Sales Flyer is here! Great savings on Fall yard care products. Up to 50% Off your purchase of plants in our nurseries with the coupon here! Get into backyard birding during migration season! Save on feeders, suet, and seed!  Also, unbeatable prices on Dog and Cat food! Don’t forget your Agway preferred customer card and save even more!

Download (PDF, 7.21MB)

Next Page »