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5 Tips for Preparing Your Garden for Fall

Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean your garden has to be done displaying beautiful colors.  While it’s important to do some routine maintenance on your garden in the fall, you can also plant some fall flowers.   Fall flowers will give your garden that pop of color that will last into the winter.  Grab your gloves and throw on a sweatshirt and get ready to get dirty.

  1. Clean up the garden. Remove any weeds, spent plants and rubbish that may have blown into the garden.  Rake around the mulch to lighten it up and add additional mulch to bare areas of the garden.  Dig up any bulbs that will not winter in the ground, such as Cana bulbs and others.  The bulb package will tell you if the bulbs need to be dug up in the fall and kept in a cool, dry, dark place for the winter.  If you no longer have the package that your bulbs came in you can ask your local nursery or garden center to find out.
  2. Plant fall flowers. Mums or icicle pansies will add color to your garden until the snow begins to fall.  Pansies will last all winter long in some areas of the country.  Adding these plants now while the summer blooms are gone will help you determine where there is a need for color.  This would also be the time to plan ahead and plant bulbs for the spring. 
  3. Prepare tender plants for winter. Roses in particular should be covered in areas of the country where it gets and stays below freezing for an extended period of time.  You can purchase rose cones that will fit over smaller rose bushes.
  4. Create a compost pile. Compost piles work best with both dry and green material in it.  Fall is the perfect time to add brown and dry material to your existing compost pile or to create a new one.  Grass clippings work well as the green material.  You can also add kitchen scraps to the pile (no meat).  Potato peels, coffee grounds and egg shells are all high in minerals that are needed in compost.  Your compost pile will need to be turned occasionally and watered if you aren’t getting a lot of rain naturally.  The more you turn the pile the faster it will turn into compost.  If you are diligent all winter you may have some compost to add to your garden in the spring.
  5. Till up the vegetable garden. If you have a vegetable garden you will need to remove the last of the vegetables and then rototill the dried up vines and plants into the soil.  You want to leave it clumpy so you don’t lose a lot of soil from the wind blowing it away.  Unlike the flower garden, you shouldn’t leave any bulbs in the vegetable garden. Because there will be no bulbs in the garden you should be able to till without worrying about killing any plants.


Fall is the perfect time to clean and sharpen your garden tools.  To keep your garden tools in good shape take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it most of the way full of sand and motor oil.  Layer in a few inches of sand and a few tablespoons of oil and keep layering until the bucket is nearly full.  Once your tools are clean and sharpened, you can stick them in this bucket to keep them that way.

The best time to prune back any dead branches and remove any crossing branches is when the trees go dormant in the fall.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing major trimming on your trees you can hire a professional to take care of it.

Gardening may seem like a hobby where all of the work happens in the spring, but seasoned gardeners will tell you that gardening is never ending.  The biggest break you get as a gardener is during the coldest part of the winter, which is also when the seed catalogs come out so that you can start dreaming about new and wonderful plants to add to your garden in the spring.

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