As summer gives way to autumn, you’ll undoubtedly notice that your backyard gardens aren’t as vibrant and vigorous as they were a few months ago. It’s also time to start preparing your yard for the winter.
When spring arrives, proper planning will save you time and energy, as well as keep you and your family safe in the yard all year. Whether you have a large vegetable garden, multiple flowerbeds, or just a few fruit trees in your yard, there are a few things you should do to help your garden transition into fall or put it to bed until the next growing season.
Here are seven fall garden jobs to keep your garden productive and get the most out of your yard all winter.
- Remove Dead Flowers and Veggies
Annual flowers and veggies that have died should be removed. In the garden, dead plants are not only unsightly, but they can also harbor diseases. Fallen seeds might emerge as volunteers or seedlings for the following year. You may or may not want such plants.
Cleaning dead plants are beneficial to your garden’s health. Compost healthy plant debris, but not frost-killed flowers and vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and others, unless you want seeds in your compost for the following year.
- Get Rid of the Weeds
You’ve undoubtedly been picking weeds all summer, but now is an excellent time to go through your yard and make sure it’s weed-free.
This is beneficial to your desirable plants and the general aesthetic appeal of your yard, but it will also aid in preparing your garden for some other duties you will be undertaking this time of year.
- Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!
Mulching in the fall generates a warm covering on top of the soil, which slowly decomposes into humus and feeds the soil. Mulching is simple if you have deciduous trees on your property. Allow the leaves to fall into the garden and use them as mulch.
You might also use a lawnmower or a leaf vacuum to mulch leaves and sprinkle the chopped-up leaves on the soil. When you add compost, you can leave the mulched leaves in place. When these leaves decompose, the soil will become richer as time passes.
- Get Your Trees in Shape
Trim any dead, damaged, or diseased branches you missed during the summer. Pruning out-of-place tree limbs that could cause problems in the winter is a good idea. You don’t want any branches to break and fall during the following winter.
Pruning in the late summer and early fall can help to stimulate new growth that hasn’t had enough time to harden before the cold weather arrives. This pruning approach encourages new root growth at the cuts and aids in establishing a freshly transplanted tree in its new position. So contact a tree trimming service right away!
- Make a Plan for New Garden Beds
It’s a terrific time to start a new planting bed in the fall. There’s no need to dig! Set your mower to the lowest setting possible, scalp the grass, and then cover with a thick layer of newspapers.
Cover the papers with a layer of compost and piles of cut leaves on top. You’ll have a nice new planting bed full of worms in the spring.
- Remove Any Infected Materials
To prevent the spread of pests and disease the following year, it’s a good idea to remove any harmful plant material or fallen fruit.
This operation should be done all year, but it’s especially critical in the fall to eliminate anything that might want to overwinter in your garden and cause difficulties in the spring.
- Shrubs, Trees, and Perennials Should All Be Planted
Planting trees, shrubs, and perennials in the fall is ideal. The weather is chilly and rainy most of the time, and the soil remains warm. Autumn’s cooler air temperatures are gentler on plants and gardeners after a hot summer, but the soil is still warm enough for roots to flourish until the ground freezes.
These are optimal root-growth conditions, which is precisely what you want when trying to establish a new plant in your yard.
Gardening tools should not be thrown in the shed and forgotten about until spring. Take the time to clean them well and apply a little coat of oil to prevent rust over the winter months.
If you follow this checklist, your yard will be beautifully winterized and ready to dazzle you with lush, green bounty once the warm weather returns.