Fall gardening tasks

Each fall we can reflect on what grew well or not so well in our flower and vegetable gardens. That reflection leads to planning on what we will plant in the fall or next spring to recapture that same floral beauty or bountiful vegetables. Along with the joy of seeing our gardens grow comes the duty of cleanup. There are many things to do in the garden in the fall to make it look neat and to prepare for spring.

Annuals

When colder nights become routine, annual flowers will start to droop. If the flowers are self-seeding, like impatiens, you can leave the decaying flowers to nourish the soil and the fallen seeds. Otherwise, pull the dying annuals and either trash them or add them to your compost bin.


Propagate coneflower by seed or divinding root ball

Perennials

If you want your perennials to create seed, either to drop at the current location or to harvest for planting elsewhere, then wait until the seeds have fully developed. The stems of the plants as their seeds mature will darken and will not look attractive. However, new perennial plants through self-seeding saves money on plants.

Two to three years after planting, divide the root ball and replant the divisions to increase the number of flowers in your garden. Dividing perennail flowers in the fall, when the remains of spent flowers are still recognizable, makes it easier to see what area of the garden could use a specific flower.

Fall is also the time to plant bulbs, so look for bargains on bulbs at your local nursery or home and garden center. Mums are widely available. To save money, pick small pots of mums for planting. The mums can be divided in about three years or cuttings can be taken each spring to propagate the plant.

Trees, Evergreens and Shrubs

Evaluate your landscape for openings where trees, evergreens or shrubs can thrive based on their sunlight requirements and expected growth.  Buy new or transplant current shrubs or small trees.  Add a layer of shredded leaves to the surface area around the newly planted evergreen, shrub or tree before adding mulch.  Leaves can be shredded by rubbing the leaves between your hands, or you can mow leaves for collection in the mower bag.  Apply both the grass clippings (if weeds are not present) and leaves.

Vegetables

Pull dead plants to add them to your compost or trash.  Cover the garden with a layer of shredded leaves; their decaying will add nutrients to the soil.

Tools

Drain garden hoses; roll and store the hoses and sprinklers in the garage or shed for the winter.  In colder zones above zone 7, turn off the water supply to outdoor spigots to avoid freezing pipes.  Clean and lubricate tools as needed; even vegetable spray from the kitchen will help preserve metal surfaces to help avoid rust. Watch for sales on garden tools at your local hardware or home/garden center to replace broken tools or add to your collection. Clean the lawn mower following these tips.

© Barbara Raskauskas

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