The leaves are falling from the trees and the flowers are fading away now that autumn is here. Now what? 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 it ready for winter. Here are some of the things that I will be working on in my PNW garden for the rest of the month (and maybe into next).
Planting tulips, daffodils, and many other spring-blooming bulbs should be done in late September through October.
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.
Garden Maintenance to Prepare for Winter
Clean Out 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.
What To Do With Your Fallen Leaves
Leaves make a great substitute for mulch, and have many of the same benefits as mulch. By spreading a 3-inch-thick layer of mulch to your garden beds, you will see the benefits. Here a few of them…
- 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 a habitat for overwintering bugs, butterflies and small animals
- Help protect your soil from blowing away in heavy winds
Dividing and Transplanting Perennials
Divide any mature perennials that are starting to overcrowd an area in your garden. Transplant these to other areas in your garden, or share them with friends and neighbors.
Digging 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.
Storing Garden Containers
Containers can crack when the temperatures are cold enough to freeze, especially those that have potting soil in them, and those made of clay. Store them in a dry and protected area.
Prepare your Containers and Tools for Winter by Cleaning and Storing
Seed trays, plastic plant markers, tomato cages and gardening tools should be sterilized by soaking them in a water-bleach solution. After soaking them, let them air dry before storing them in a garage, shed or greenhouse for the winter. Sterilizing your tools and equipment will help reduce mineral build up. It will also help to prevent the spread of fungus and bacteria to your new plants when you reuse the tools and pots.
I hope this fall task list has helped you to come up with a plan to prepare your garden for winter. By completing these projects now, your garden will be ready to go for next spring. Please leave a comment and let me know if you have any other questions, or good ideas.