Fall clean up in the garden is made up of a few quick and easy tasks which will pay huge dividends in the upcoming year.
Fall Clean Up
  • As annuals stop blooming or die, pull them up and throw them on the compost pile.
  • Lift and store tender bulbs.
  • Stake young trees to help protect from wind damage.
  • Completely clear the garden of weeds before they drop their seeds and create a problem for next year.
  • Cut herbaceous perennials to 2-3" tall and toss the scraps on the compost pile.
  • Give all plants a long, deep watering so that they are fully hydrated for winter.
  • Remove all leaf debris, twigs, and miscellaneous organic material that can harbor pests and disease.
  • Empty clay pots of annuals. Bring the pots inside to keep them from freezing and cracking.
  • Take down unused stakes and empty trellises to clean for reuse next spring.
Fall Pruning
  • Remove and discard dead or broken branches on shrubs and trees.
  • Prune shrubs and roses no later than 4 weeks before the first frost so that the fresh cuts have time to harden off and callous over.
  • Cut herbaceous perennials to 2-3" tall and toss the scraps in the compost bin.
Fall Mulching
A fresh layer of mulch in the fall helps reduce water loss, suppress weed growth, and protect plants from extreme temperature swings.
Commonly used mulches:
  • Chopped or shredded leaves
  • Wood shavings. Hardwoods seem to work better for moisture retention.
  • Straw (not hay).
  • Compost
  • A deep root watering is needed prior to the first freeze. Gradually reduce the watering for your plants from a daily watering to weekly watering to monthly throughout fall and winter.
  • Allow the water to extend beyond the drip line of trees and large shrubs. A thirsty plant going into the cold season will be much more susceptible to winter damage than a well-watered one
  • If you made a basin around the base of the plant/shrub to hold water during spring and summer months, make a hole in it so water can drain away and not freeze the plant.
  • Monitor weather conditions and water during extended dry periods without snow cover - one to two times per month.

Fall Clean Up - Putting the Garden to Bed