Now that the leaves are starting to fall from the trees and the flowers are fading away, what’s next for the garden? Here’s a fall task list for you to start preparing your garden for the winter season.
When I was a new gardener, and summer was over, I was sad to see my flowers fade away with summer. But I looked forward to a much-needed break from the crazy hours I spent out in the garden, tending to my flowers.
I had no idea that the hard work was just about to begin!
This is such an important time to be out in the garden, getting ready for the winter season.
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I’m a self-taught hobby gardener, not a Master Gardener. Everything I share with you on my blog is my personal opinion and things that worked for me along the way.
Fall Task List
1. Plant Bulbs, Trees, and Shrubs
Planting tulips, daffodils, and many other spring-blooming bulbs should be done in late September through October before the first hard frost.
TREES AND SHRUBS
Fall is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. The soil is still warm enough for the roots to establish if you plant well before the first frost of the season. This way, there is time to acclimate before the cold winter months.
2. Maintain Garden to Prepare for Winter
CLEAN OUT THE GARDEN BEDS
Keep the weeds at a minimum through the fall. Deadhead and clean up any debris, such as faded blooms, fallen branches, and spent plants. By removing weeds and debris, you are eliminating areas for insects and diseases to overwinter.
Fallen leaves however are a different story.
3. Add Mulch to Your Garden
Spreading a 3-inch thick layer of mulch to your garden beds is an important fall task. Did you know that you can use your fallen leaves for mulch? They make a great substitute for mulch and have many of the same benefits.
BENEFITS OF ADDING MULCH TO YOUR GARDEN BEDS
- Prevent weeds
- Maintain moisture
- Insulate the soil
- Add nutrients to the soil as the leaves break down
- Prolong the growing season and will allow your fall garden to flourish
- Provide habitat for overwintering bugs, butterflies, and small animals
- Help protect your soil from blowing away in heavy winds
4. Divide and Transplant Perennials
Divide any mature perennials that are starting to overcrowd an area in your garden beds. Transplant these to other areas around your garden, or share them with friends and neighbors.
5. Dig up Tender Bulbs and Tubers to Prepare for Winter
Dahlias and other tender bulbs will not survive the winter months in northern regions. They need to be dug up shortly after the foliage turns brown in fall. Store them in a cool, dry place for planting outside next spring.
I’m in hardiness zone 8b and have a much milder climate in the winter. I leave my tubers and bulbs in the ground throughout the winter, but add a thick layer of mulch around the plants to protect them from any damage caused by freezing temperatures.
6. Overwinter Tender Plants
One of the items on my fall task list to prepare my garden for winter is to dig my geraniums out of my containers and window boxes before any threat of frost and transplant them into pots. Then I move the geraniums into the greenhouse for the winter. If you don’t have a greenhouse, read my blog post to find out other ways to store your plants through the winter season.
7. Plant Fall Garden Containers
Now that you’ve transferred your tender and sensitive plants to a safe place to be stored over the winter, or your summer annuals have died back, it’s a perfect time to plant some fall annuals in the garden.
Some of these annuals will even stay through some or all of the winter season, depending on your climate.
Violas, pansies, mums, flowering kale, ornamental cabbage, asters, and celosia are just a few fall favorites that I’ll be planting in the next few weeks for a new pop of color and interest.
8. Store Items from the Garden Before Freezing Temperatures
- Ceramic and clay pots and containers can crack when the temperatures are cold enough to freeze, especially those that have potting soil in them.
- Statues and other breakable yard art are also vulnerable during the winter months and should be removed from the garden until the temperatures warm up.
- Clean, cover, and store pillows, cushions, and outdoor furniture in a dry and protected area.
9. Clean Containers and Tools and Store for Winter
Seed trays, plastic plant markers, Sterilizing your tools and equipment will help reduce mineral buildup. It will also help to prevent the spread of fungus and bacteria to your new plants when you reuse the tools and pots.
10. Cut Back Most Perennials in the Garden
Hard prune or cut back perennials that are done blooming for the season, or that are diseased. Cutting off dead or dying foliage on a plant will help prevent fungal growth, infestations, and disease.
Here’s where it gets complicated.
Some plants need their foliage for protection over the winter and shouldn’t be pruned until spring-like asters and hostas. Know your plant’s particular care requirements for the best results.
Many seedheads can provide food to wildlife and are beneficial to keep in the garden through winter.
I hope this fall task list helps you create your own plan to prepare your garden for winter. By completing these projects now, your garden will be even more successful next spring. Make sure to leave a comment and let me know if you have any other questions.
Until next time,