As the main growing season ends, it’s time to do as much prep for next spring as possible. The more you can accomplish prior to winter, the sooner you can get going come spring.
Putting the garden to bed means getting rid of any mess that may be around. This means cleaning up what’s left, packing away the things you won’t need until spring and making sure everything is ready to go when spring arrives. Prepping means you can settle in for winter knowing that when you look out the window, your garden will be all tucked in.
Most perennials can be cut back in the fall. See our guide on perennial care guide for more tips.
Hold off on pruning woody plants, trees and shrubs until they are dormant. In our climate, it’s best to leave these plants until new growth starts, then remove the old leaves and stems.
Pull dead or declining annuals. It can be hard to do, but they’re not going to come back – get it over with.
Harvest everything above ground in the vegetable garden and under any fruit trees. Don’t leave fruits and vegetables out all winter to rot – they will attract uninvited animals.
Speaking of animals, clean up any overgrown areas to prevent animals and pests from moving in during the colder winter season. Don’t forget about that out-of-control area behind the shed or where you piled some brush last spring! If you leave it, you’ll not just invite animals, you’ll invite weedy plants. Clean and put away your garden tools!
Plant flower bulbs now for drifts of spring bloom. Some of the best bets for naturalizing (bulbs that come back year after year) are bluebells, crocuses, and tulips. Keep in mind that hyacinths and hybrid tulips are stunning but may last only a few seasons. Plant hardy ground covers now and they’ll send out roots during winter, which will give rise to a strong burst of growth when the weather warms in spring. Some veggies will thank you if you take advantage of the cool weather and sow seeds now. Spinach and Mache are good to sow and will start growing for you in early spring. You’ll be harvesting when everyone else is just planting!
Planting cover crops (also called green manure), is a great idea because they feed the soil, suppress weeds and prevent run off. Choosing a cover crop which builds the soil nitrogen reserves such as sweet clover, cowpeas or field peas will make the soil even more productive.
If you’ve taken your houseplants outside to enjoy the nice weather, it’s time to bring them back inside. Houseplants start to slow down as the days get shorter, so it’s a good idea to cut back on watering and feeding until next spring (winter feeding can result in weak growth). Shield any plants that animals (raccoons, deer) might eat. Put fencing around shrubs if you really want to keep them away. Ease up on fertilizing plants so new growth won’t get damaged by dips in temperature.
Weeding is key! We know you thought you were done with weeding but pulling those weeds now will cut down on problems in the spring. Tag plants you want to divide in the spring, because we all tend to forget where they are when the time comes. We recommend labeling plants while they’re still in bloom, so you know what plants are where in your garden. Prepare your planting beds with organic compost for planting in early spring. The freezing and thawing through winter will work it into the soil for you.
Disconnect hoses from hose bibs. Take drip irrigation controllers off faucets and remove the batteries. Arrange winterization blow outs for in-ground systems. See our irrigation maintenance guide for more tips! We can help, call us at (206) 551-9872