It seems like every season change means a new long list of things to do. In fall, our houses and cars need to be prepared for the upcoming winter season and so do our gardens and landscapes. The following are a few garden chores that should be completed before Old Man Winter arrives.
I know water bills this summer were high, but watering your most expensive plants, trees and shrubs makes a lot of sense. When the ground freezes solid, your trees and shrubs won’t be able to get extra water until spring. Take the time to make sure there’s enough water in the soil. Give them a big drink now, and add mulch to help keep the soil moist. Just avoid making mulch volcano’s, because this actually chokes your tree. Watering is especially important with evergreens, as they transpire moisture all winter.
Take Cuttings for More Plants
Now is a great time to make more plants from cutting and save money along the way. Clip a leaf or stem from some of your favorite plants, put it in water or soil and watch it grow. Some of the easy plants to take clippings from are tender annuals like coleus, sweet potato vine, and impatiens.
In late fall, you can prune many types of trees. The cool temperatures minimize the sap loss, which means less stress on the tree. Not all trees and shrubs should be pruned in the fall. You can leave flowering trees like cherry, peach, and plums alone. Check with your local nursery or the Cornell Cooperative Extension to find out when and how to prune your trees.
Tidying the Garden
Cleaning the flower and vegetable gardens in the fall helps in the spring. Cut old flower stalks, and discard any diseased plants. After cleaning up, let your garden air dry for at least a week. You can then mark where plants have self-seeded and where you might have missed a weed with wooden shims, plastic table knives or even rocks. This is also a good time to draw a rough sketch showing where all your plants are growing.
Store Tender Bulbs
After cleaning the garden and before the ground freezes, dig up and store your non-hardy bulbs like gladiolus, dahlias, cannas, and tuberous begonias. Remove the dirt from the roots and store them in the basement in a basket or a bucket.
Fall is a great time to start a compost pile. You need green items such as grass, and food scraps, and brown items like cardboard and leaves. Layer two inches of green and brown materials from your garden clean up in a pile, and then keep this pile covered for the winter. If you already have a compost pile, apply a layer of raked leaves on the top and make sure it’s covered so you don’t lose precious nutrients from wintery gusts.
Leaves = Mulch
A great way to keep your plants cozy this winter is mulching, and using leaves as great mulch. Run over the leaves with your lawn mower so they can disintegrate and feed the lawn. Mow the lawn one more time and top dress the flower beds.
Fall is the time to plant spring-blooming bulbs like tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils. Get them in the ground before it freezes and remember, tip up on the tulips. Put in a little effort in the fall, and you'll be rewarded with gorgeous color in the spring.
Clean Your Pots
Empty your flower pots, clean them with a brush, let them dry and store them in a garden shed or other covered spot. Leaving them out all winter could cause the pots to crack.
Put Your Tools to Bed
Removing any dirt and chemicals from your garden tools after each use is a must, so doing it one last time before winter shouldn’t be hard. This is also a good time to make repairs and make sure they are sharp.
Plan Next Year's Garden
Once everything is finished, take inventory for next year’s garden. Collect and read the catalogs, research new plants and don’t forget fall is a good time to plant a new tree or shrub.