Nature centers, garden centers, and nurseries offer a number of advantages that mail-order cannot match -- plants are adapted to local conditions, sales people are usually knowledgeable and can offer valuable advice, and plants are usually large and establish themselves more quickly. And these sources often offer sale prices in the fall.
And remember, plants are an investment. A thoughtfully landscaped yard not only provides privacy, beauty, and wildlife habitat, it also adds economic value to your property that only time can provide. Hummingbirds and butterflies descend on backyards that feature nectar-bearing wildflowers.
And properly placed, trees can reduce a home's energy costs. Large deciduous trees growing on a home's south side create cool summer shade. And rows of large conifers on the west side protect the house from freezing winter winds.
On the down side, many nurseries cater more to landscapers than wildlife gardeners. I've had little luck, for example, finding native nectar-producing plants for hummingbirds such as trumpetcreeper and trumpet honeysuckle. Look for wildlife plantings at nature centers that promote "native species."
The list of plants suitable for fall planting is long and subject to individual taste and landscaping objectives. Here are a few more species I've had luck planting in the fall.
Crab apples, oaks, mulberries, mountain ash, and white pines are some of my favorite trees because they provide year round pleasure -- winter perches for birds, spring blossoms, summer greenery and fall fruit.
Shrubs such as native roses, raspberries, blackberries, and viburnums screen out roadside dust and noise while also providing nest sites and food for a variety of birds. Plus my wife and I get to pick wild roses, blackberries, and raspberries every spring.
And don't forget to plant some native perennial wildflowers this fall. Butterfly milkweed, bee balm, and Joe-Pye-weed are a few of my favorites.
If your backyard plans include adding new plants for next year, get a head start this fall. Just be sure to get started before the ground freezes.