11 Fall Gardening Tips
Know what to reap and sow for a great garden all year.
Sigh. It’s time to say goodbye to the fruits and flowers of summer. The fun part now, though, is planning and planting your spring garden. Here’s everything you need to do to help your garden survive the winter and flourish come spring.
1. leave some leaves
Hooray! You don’t have to rake all the leaves! It’s OK not to rake up leaves under trees and shrubs and on sturdy ground covers (over time they become much-needed compost). However, must-rake leaves are those on perennial beds (they can cause crown rot) and grass lawns (they attract fungi and insects).
2. protect perennials
As perennials fade away, mark their locations with small sticks, so you don’t lose them in the spring. If you haven't brought in your house plants, do it before you turn on your heat to give them time to adjust, and wash them first to get rid of pests.
3. transplant fruit plants
Rhubarb, raspberries and strawberries can quickly deplete the soil of nutrients, so find new locations for them every three or four years. Transplant them well before the first light frost so they can develop roots.
4. house the herbs
Dig up your herbs to grow inside. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot, and let the soil dry out before watering. Snip leaves whenever you need herbs in your cooking, but don’t strip completely. For herbs that have grown prolifically, cut them back halfway and dry or freeze the extra, or share it with friends. This DIY lavender and rosemary soap makes a great gift.
5. hang the tomatoes
If you have unripe tomatoes still hanging on the vine, and frost is fast approaching, pull the vines out by the roots and hang them upside down in a cool, dark place to finish ripening.
6. brew sweet cider
If you have apple trees, now’s the time to harvest them for a delicious cider brew. It’s fine to use blemished apples, but avoid adding too many with open wounds or bruises. If rot has already set in, it could affect the taste and longevity of the cider.
7. flash some fall color
Replace spent annuals with fall-blooming hardy mums. These pretty perennials provide color for weeks, and if properly planted, maintained and winterized, they’ll add color to your garden every fall for years to come.
8. bring on the bulbs
Fall is "now or never" time to plant spring bulbs. Shop early for the best selection, and don’t delay too much in planting them after buying. You’ll want to plant them 6-8 weeks before the first hard frost in your area.
9. try new (tasty) trees
Fall is the best season to plant fruit trees such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and figs. Young trees should be staked to prevent roots from being pulled by fall and winter winds.
10. plant now, eat sooner
Some veggies can be sown in fall to overwinter, which results in earlier crops the following year! Try peas, fava beans, hardy spinach, spring cabbage, Italian wine grapes, leaf beets, or Swiss chard. Spring onions can be sown in late summer and early fall for overwintering.
11. when in doubt, go pro
Short on time and energy? Hire a landscaper! In the fall, scheduling is less chaotic than in spring, and designers have more time to answer questions and start smaller projects. Call them early so you don’t miss the planting season, because lead time is needed (visiting the site, drawing up plans, making estimates, etc.).