As Rudyard Kipling once said, “Gardens aren’t made by sitting in the shade.” Many gardeners see autumn as a time to start putting their gardens to rest. However, autumn is the perfect time to evaluate, design and improve your gardens. Consider your landscape. Autumn is also an excellent time to perform land and tool maintenance. Perform a soil test; sharpen your garden tools; clean the mower for storage; improve soil and garden mulch for the coming season. Those little efforts will now help your garden thrive in the spring.
More things to do in the fall?
– Stop fertilizing and water the plants less when temperatures start to drop.
– In general, cutting or not cutting some plants appears to be a matter of region and preference. Ask a local gardening expert what he recommends for your plants.
– In the meantime, dispose of any diseased or infested plant debris to avoid returning the problem in the spring.
– One last weed will help improve the appearance of your garden during the remaining autumn months. Plus, any grass you eliminate now will prevent hundreds of weeds from sprouting in your garden next spring.
– In many areas, planted strawberries will now be able to bear fruit in October and November. Strawberries produce well for about three years. In addition to eating them, your next task in the fall will be to replace old plants with new ones in that 3rd year.
– If desired, bring your cuttings indoors in winter.
– Plant trees and shrubs. Keep these well watered after planting so they can get used to their new environment before they hit the colder periods.
– The burlap wraps all the plants that could benefit before the onset of heavy frosts.
– Prune any sick or stressed tree / shrub, shoot now – while healthy parts of the plant are more easily differentiated.
– Assess which plants and shrubs did well in your gardens and which didn’t. Note it down for next season’s schedule. Take photos of your successes and difficult spots. Plan your spring bulb garden now.
– If necessary, divide the perennials and transplant the newly divided bulbs. Try to spend a mild and cloudy day to minimize the stress of plants / bulbs.
– Once the temperatures reach 60 degrees, prepare the soil beds and plant the spring flowering bulbs.
– Cut flowers that have stopped blooming and / or stop discarding seed heads in early autumn if you want the plants to sow themselves. Wild and perennial ornamental flower seeds can be harvested and sown now or within the next two months.
– Consider leaving the ornamental herbs as they are. They make a beautiful landscape during the colder months.
– Rake and erase fallen leaves, fruit and dry brush.
– Watch for frost alerts; protect / cover plants and vegetables as needed.
– If you have a bin or a compost pile, turn it over with a pitchfork or a garden fork.
– Bring summer houseplants indoors for the colder months when nighttime lows drop in the 1950s. Outside, gently spray all plants with water to remove any unwanted pests; carefully examine the plants before bringing them into the house.
– After watering the last plant outdoors and cleaning the garden tools for the season, empty and wrap the garden pipes. Store tools, hoses and portable irrigation systems.
– Choose herbs to freeze and / or dry. Make sure to take any unripe tomatoes and cukes inside before freezing. You can wrap them with newspaper and leave them in a cool dark place to mature or use them in creative cooking activities.
– Collect the crop of vegetables and herbs still in your garden. Preserve, smoothie, can or freeze with a smile.
Now that your “chores” are over and the weather is cooler, walk in your backyard. Look at the photos of your landscape. Consider what worked well, what you could see. You may want to plan a gazebo, a koi pond, some additional flower beds or an aquatic garden for the coming season. In your autumn gardening checklist you can also consider outdoor lighting, retaining walls, patios, decking and other structures.
by Steve Boulden