Winterizing your garden this fall will get the garden off to a good start in the spring. One of the most important steps: Keeping the garden watered until the ground freezes, usually mid-December. This is especially important for new gardens or plants.
Leaves falling from the trees are often called “gardener’s gold.” They make terrific mulch for all plants. Keeping a layer of leaves on garden beds will keep weeds down. Plus, as the leaves compost next spring, they’ll provide great nutrients for the soil.
There is still time to plant this fall. Perennials, trees and shrubs can be planted until the ground freezes.
This is the only time of year to plant bulbs if you want spring color from crocus, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. With proper planning, spring-flowering bulbs will provide color from the very early spring through to the end of June.
Bulbs look best when in planted in groups, rather than single straight lines. Cluster them together, planting smaller bulbs in the front and taller ones in the back.
Fertilizing improves the bulb’s flowering. There are many good products to use, including Bone Meal or Espoma’s Bulb Tone specially formulated for bulbs. Mix the fertilizer with soil before planting the bulb.
Garden beds can be prepared for spring planting now. Amend soil with organic material, cut new beds and rototill or turn the soil so it’s ready for spring planting.
Annual and vegetable beds should be cleared out. Pull up dead plants and recycle them in the compost pile. Most debris can be added to the compost pile, unless there was a problem with disease or insects.
Keep any perennial herbs intact. If you’ve planted your herb garden with perennials like sage, parsley and thyme, you may be able to continue to harvest those plants for your Thanksgiving meal. If not, hopefully, you’ve dried some herbs this summer for cooking this winter.
Perennials can be pruned down to three or four inches. Determining what to cut down and what not to cut down depends on how much you like a tidy garden. Many perennials develop interesting seedpods that are food sources for birds and other wild animals. Keep fall bloomers, like sedum, grasses and black-eyed Susan, intact to provide great winter interest.
Mulch the perennial beds with a three to four-inch layer of wood mulch to minimize the heaving of roots during a freeze and thaw cycle in the winter.
Most roses are dormant now. Clean up any fallen leaves around the plants to help control black spot and powdery mildew that over winter in the soil. Prune garden roses in the fall and cover with a rose cone. Protecting the crown is the best way to ensure the plant will survive in the winter. Shrub roses can be pruned in the fall or the spring. Many shrub roses produce bright orange rose hips, which birds will feed on thru the winter.
It’s not too late to fertilize your lawn if you haven’t done so already. The earlier in the month this is done, the better. Use a low-nitrogen formula. One formulated for the fall is best.
Continue mowing into November. The last cut should be lower than normal. Shorter blades prevent debris from collecting in the lawn during the winter.
Inside the house, move houseplants so they’re closest to your sunniest windows. Decrease fertilizing using a half-strength, water-soluble solution once a month until March.
Adjust watering based on the humidity in your house. Pay attention to how fast plants dry out. Stick your finger down about two inches into the soil. If it’s dry, it’s time to water.
Spending a bit of time putting the garden to bed properly this Fall, will reap great rewards next spring!