What to do in the
yard and garden now
fall – time to forget
about the garden, right? Not so fast – if you get
your garden ready for winter properly, it will make a
big difference next spring.
Instead of playing catch-up and
fixing winter's damage, you'll be ready to enjoy your
garden when the first spring bulbs come up.
Use this checklist to help with
the late fall jobs around the yard and garden
Early fall garden
jobs: In the yard
There's still plenty of bloom in
the early fall garden
One important job in the early
fall garden is to continue to water your plants, especially
your evergreens and trees and shrubs if it isn't raining
enough. Going into the winter well hydrated will help
keep your plants thriving. More
on winterizing trees and shrubs.
Lawn care: Aerate
your lawn and reseed any dead or thin spots. This is
the best time of the year to lay sod, overseed or start
a lawn from seed because temperatures are cooler and
rain tends to be more plentiful than in the hot summer
lawn care tips.
Create a new bed: Do soil
preparation for any
new beds you want to have ready for spring planting.
This is a good time to plan or do landscaping projects,
such as walls, walkways, patios, and decks. See
landscape design tips.
Getting the garden ready for winter:
Around the yard
Move woody plants: This
is a good time of the year to transplant any shrubs or
small trees that you have earmarked for relocation. Do
this when the leaves of deciduous woody plants turn color
and start to drop.
Plant trees or shrubs: In
many regions, this is a good time to get woody plants
into the ground. See
tree planting instructions.
Protect young trees with
guards: Put plastic or wire mesh (hardware
cloth) tree guards around the slender trunks of any
new trees and shrubs to protect them from gnawers such
as rabbits and mice, and make sure the tree guards
go high enough, over the snow line.
Continue to water trees, especially
evergreens, until the ground freezes. Evergreens need
a good store of moisture going into winter because they
don't lose their leaves, which means they continue to
transpire (give off water vapor) through the cold months. More
information on winter care for your trees and shrubs.
Rake up fallen leaves from your lawn each week instead of
leaving the job until all the leaves have fallen. In fall, lawn grass
still needs sunlight as it is creating sugars to store in its root
system for good growth next spring. Leaving the leaves on top of
the lawn can smother the grass and weaken it.
Use your yard's leaves: Consider
shredding fall leaves and using them as winter mulchon
flower beds. You can also add shredded leaves to the
compost pile. In a season or so, they'll make the best
treat your garden soil can have. You can use a chipper
shredder, if you have one, or just run your lawn mower
over the leaves.
Control lawn weeds: If
you spray your lawn to control broadleaf weeds, the month
of October is the most effective time for this job.
Apply lawn fertilizer.
A lawn fertilizer application made in the late fall encourages
increases winter hardiness and promotes quick greening
in spring. For more information on this, see
low maintenance lawn care.
Cut the lawn one final time: After
you are finished, why not get your mower serviced and
its blade sharpened now so it will be ready for spring?
Weeding: Do one
last weeding and discard any weeds that have seeds on
them in the garbage instead of the compost. You don't
want those pesky seeds sprouting in your garden later.
Getting your flower
garden ready for winter
Perennial garden cleanup: Whether
you cut down dying perennial foliage when you're getting
the garden ready for winter is up to you. Some gardeners
like to leave seed heads and dried foliage for winter
interest and to feed birds. Others prefer to leave neat
beds ready for a show of spring-flowering bulbs. But
whatever you cut down now, you don't have to clean up
in the spring.
A good compromise is to remove
leaves and stalks that frost turns to mush
and any that are diseased, but keep some ornamental
grasses and the perennials with seed heads that provide
winter food to birds. When cutting plants down, prune
perennials to 4 to 5 inches of the ground.
Annuals: Pull out
any last frosted annuals and add spent plant material
to your compost.
Weeding and edging: Do
a final weeding and edging of flower beds.
Spring bulbs: This
is still a good time to plant spring-flowering
bulbs before the ground
Rose care: Don't
cut roses back now – do it early spring. Hill up
hybrid tea roses with soil for winter protection if necessary. More
tips on protecting roses over the winter.
Winter mulch: Once
the ground freezes, apply a layer of winter mulch to
perennial beds – don't do this too early or you'll
provide winter shelter for rodents.