We hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying the lovely fall weather here in TN! To get you into the spirit of the season we have a great article from Sunlight Gardens featuring their favorite fall plants for that splash of fall color. Secondly we have officially released the “Tennessee Urban Riparian Handbook: A Practical Guide to Establishing Healthy Streamside Buffers” developed by TDA Division of Forestry and TNWRRC Staff. That includes our very own Co-Director Ruth Anne Hanahan and TN Smart Yards Tech and Administrative Assistant Katie Walberg. It’s a great resource for homeowners whose property is situated next to a stream or other waterbody. Read more about it below and download the Handbook at the provided link. Finally, to get us outdoors and soaking up the fall weather before winter arrives, we have two fun crafty ideas that will reuse materials found in your yard and provide food for wildlife for the upcoming cold winter months!

We hope you enjoy this newsletter, and remember to check out our seasonal gardening tips and upcoming events with each issue!

Thanks for reading!
The TN Smart Yards Management Team

We are often asked, of the plants we grow, which do we think have the best fall color? Well first of all, a good growing season with plentiful rain and reasonable temperatures will allow plants that are genetically able to “color up” to reach their full fall foliage color potential. Likewise, proper nutrition is important. This is true for trees, shrubs, and perennials. As temperatures cool and hours of daylight shorten, green chlorophyll in plant leaves starts to decrease and other cell pigments become unmasked or visible. So the chlorophyll laden green leaves of Spicebush, Sugar Maple, or Bluestar, for instance, gradually change to reveal carotenoid-full yellow or orange leaves. Or in the case of blueberries, Virginia Sweetspire, and Chokeberry, chlorophyll fades as the pigment anthocyanin is produced resulting in brilliant reds and purples. That’s it, in a nutshell.
Here is our list of the 10 best fall foliage plants:

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And here is our list of the 10 best plants for fall flowers or fruits:

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These lists may surprise you. They are not your standard landscape plants. And notice that two of them, Chokeberry and Hearts-a-Bustin, make both lists! These are plants you might want to consider incorporating into your garden.

This handbook is available on the Tennessee Division of Forestry website at:

Helpful Links




Garden Tip #1

It’s an ideal time to plant or transplant trees, shrubs and fruit crops. Be sure to mulch newly planted plants with a good 3-4" layer of mulch.

Garden Tip #2

Cut chrysanthemum stems and other perennials to 4-5" from the soil once they have begun to die back, but leave grasses to provide winter interest until spring. You can also transplant perennials throughout the fall and winter, as long as they remain dormant.

Garden Tip #3

Mulch flower beds with 3-4" of good compost or fine mulch to keep soil temperature stable and prevent winter plant injury from frost heaving. As the compost or fine mulch decomposes, it will enrich your garden soil as well.

Featured Native Plant!

Farkleberry, Sparkleberry

Vaccinium arboreum

Sun to light shade; medium to dry moisture level; tolerates a wide range of soils; prefers strongly to slightly acid pH but is unique among the Vaccinium because tolerates neutral to alkaline pH; 8-15 feet height by 4-10 feet spread; blooms in May and June; white flowers tinged with pink; black, lustrous berries in clusters persisting through winter.

Growth Rate:  Medium

Maintenance:  Free of serious pests or diseases.  Easy maintenance.  Needs no special treatment once established.

Propagation:  Moderately easy from seed
Germination code: C(60-90) at 41 degrees F. 
Seeds need light to germinate. 
Difficult from cuttings.

Region:  Native to Tennessee; absent in Central Basin

Large, evergreen to semi-evergreen shrub to small tree with twisted irregular branches and reddish, exfoliating bark.  Crimson red leaves in fall.  Attractive species that deserves to be planted more often.  Fruit not palatable to humans.  Fruit production is erratic, ranging from none in some years to prolific in other years. Native to dry, rocky woods, sand dunes, rock outcroppings, dry sterile hillsides, meadows and abandoned fields.  High wildlife value.  Attracts birds, mammals, bees and butterflies.

Visit TNSY's Native Plant Website to learn more about Tennessee's native flora!

Garden Tip #4

Rake heavy layers of leaves and then compost the leaves. For light layers of leaves, simply mow over them, turning the leaves into a "fertilizer" that will add important nutrients to your soil as they decompose. 

Garden Tip #5

Keep feeding the birds to keep them coming back to your yard during the colder months.

Food to offer: Seeds like black oil sunflower, white millet, niger, safflower, cracked corn, broken nuts and suet in hanging baskets for woodpeckers.



Upcoming Events!

2016 Middle Tennessee Landscape Management Short Course

January 12th and 13th, 2016

Williamson County Ag Expo Park

4215 Long Lane, Franklin, Tennessee


Join us for the 10th anniversary of the annual Middle Tennessee Landscape Management Short Course. This course is coordinated by a group of horticulture Extension Agents with The University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University dedicated to improving the educational opportunities in Middle Tennessee for green industry professionals.


TN Pesticide Applicator Points

Day 1: Category 3 will receive 5 points with all other categories receiving 2

Day 2: Category 3 will receive 6 points with all other categories receiving 2

ISA Certified Arborist Points will be awarded.  Contact Karla Kean at 931-648-5725 or

For more detailed information contact your local county Extension agent or Williamson County Agent, Amy Dismukes: 615-790-5721

See Ya' in the Winter!

Thanks so much for reading!
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Facebook for details on our new projects and more tips on achieving a healthy home landscape.
Keep In Touch!

Ruth Anne Hanahan and Dr. Andrea Ludwig
TNSY Statewide Co-Directors

Tennessee Water Resources Research Center
University of Tennessee
311 Conference Center
Knoxville, TN 37996


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311 Conference Center Building
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