Fall is coming…time to think about Fall garden chores! Here are some timely tips for preparing your yard and garden for the cold months ahead and making spring cleanup easier.
Prune back trees and plants.
Trim off dead branches and spent blossoms from your perennials, keeping in mind that some seed pods and ornamental grasses add interest to the Winter garden. Save any leftover seeds from some plants (like coreopsis, Jefferson bean and sunflowers) to plant in the garden next year.
Tend the vegetable garden.
The fresh veggies don’t have to stop with summer – in addition to winter squash, late summer is a great time to sow seeds for a Fall crop of greens (like spinach and lettuces). A cold frame or row covers help extend the growing season.
To keep bugs and other pests from hibernating in your vegetable garden, be sure to clear away all dead plants (you can use them for compost) and remove all yard debris once you’re done harvesting. Check in and around the garden for the tan egg cases of gypsy moths and destroy them. Any diseased or pest-ridden plants should be burned. Amend and improve vegetable garden soil with compost and organic fertilizers. While you’re doing this, you can plan out your garden for the following growing season, keeping in mind what plants performed well and what might benefit from a change.
Dig up annuals and summer bulbs.
Dig up summer annuals and use them to nourish the compost heap. You should also dig up your summer bulbs and store them in peat moss for the winter.
Yes, you can plant in the Fall! To ensure colorful springtime blooms, it’s best to plant bulbs in the Fall, before the earth freezes (usually in mid-October, though tulips can be planted as late as November). Looking for color before spring? Try planting cold-hardy annuals like ornamental kale, pansies and chrysanthemums.
Cut back and divide perennials.
Early Fall is a good time to divide and transplant perennials (like irises and peonies), trees and shrubs if they haven’t been flourishing in their current location, giving them time to establish themselves and allow their roots to develop before the ground freezes. Be sure to keep them well watered until the first freeze.
Bring container plants indoors.
“Winter over” container plants in the garage or basement. Remove dead leaves and break up any hardened soil before bringing them inside for storage in a garage, mudroom or basement.
Provide protection for plants that are sensitive to cold.
Once the ground freezes, cover shrubs, roses, and tender perennials that might succumb to frigid temperatures with a good layer of mulch. You can also use screens or covers to protect these plants.
Gather fallen leaves.
Don’t let fallen leaves stay on your lawn all winter – left unattended, they’ll suffocate grass and other plants. You don’t need to let them go to waste…shredded leaves make great mulch.
Mow the lawn and feed it.
It grows more slowly in the fall, but do cut the grass before winter sets in. Be sure to lower the lawn mower and cut it short to help it dry out more quickly in the spring. Follow up that last cutting with a feeding – the extra nutrients will help it survive through the winter.
Find more ways to make Outdoor Fall Cleanup easier!