A little fall planning and prepping can really rev up the spring season. Autumn is the time to clean up beds, manage soils, prepare sod, and minimize problems in the new growing season. It's also the time to plant spring blooming bulbs and pull out tender summer bloomers. Fall garden prep is one of those maintenance chores that will help guarantee a beautiful and bountiful garden next season. Follow a few fall garden tips for a worry-free winter and more free time in spring.
Fall Garden Maintenance
Fall garden prep before winter enhances the appearance of the yard and ensures that tender plants get some TLC to protect them before cold weather hits.
Planting New Plants
You can also use this time to sink spring bulbs and plant some cool season plants to fill in gaps in the landscape and brighten up the end of season garden. Some autumn garden ideas to add color to the landscape are:
After fall garden maintenance is finished, it's a good time to plant shrubs and trees. They will get adequate moisture and a dormant period to minimize transplant shock. Many gardeners think autumn means an end to gardening. It's surprising what plants can be grown up until the first freeze or even after in mild climates. Extend your harvest by using row covers, mulch, and cold frames. Shop the late season sales for vegetable starts. You can plant most of the Brassicas, such as cabbage and broccoli. In mild climates you can start hard-necked garlic. Lettuces, radish, and some root crops are also good fall gardening tips for the veggie grower. Cover any crops if snow or an extended freeze is expected.
Clean Up Old and Unwanted Growth
The end of the season is the time to remove your spent vegetable plants, clean up plant debris and weeds, and winterize your lawn furniture and water features. Some easy autumn garden ideas include raking leaves onto the lawn and mowing them with a grass catcher. The resulting mix of nitrogen and carbon makes an excellent cover for the vegetable garden, which will enhance the fertility in spring and help prevent weeds. You can also use this time to get rid of nuisance plants. Since many of your plants will lose leaves or die back, it is a good time to use a foliar, systemic herbicide on those problem plants like morning glory.
Put the Garden to Bed
Dig up and bring in any sensitive bulbs or tubers. This will depend on your USDA plant hardiness zone, but anywhere there is an extended freeze plants should be brought indoors. Removing plant debris and raking will decrease pest, disease, and weed seeds that overwinter. Empty the compost bins and start a new batch. Spread the compost around the base of sensitive plants that can use the extra layer as a blanket. Plant a cover crop on your vegetable garden.
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.