Get your garden ready for fall with these 10 easy steps. Preparing your garden for fall isn’t hard as long as you follow these easy tips.
1. Pull out all of the dead plants
While it can be sad to pull out plants when it seems like you just planted them a few short months ago it’s for the best. Remove any dead vegetable plants and spent annuals and add them to your compost pile.
2. Remove any diseased plants or foliage
Removing diseased leaves and plants from your garden is really important. If you leave them in your garden they can spread to other plants and overwinter to cause you problems next garden season.
It’s best to either burn these if they are a non-toxic plant or bag them up and take them to your landfill.
Composting diseased plants isn’t a good idea because diseases such as blight can be spread back into your garden easily.
3. Trim back perennial plants that have gone dormant
Once your perennial plants have turned yellow or brown it’s time to cut them back.
However, if your plants still have leafy green growth then it’s best to just leave them alone and wait until spring to cut back the dead stems.
If your perennials have seeds on them and you would like to save the seeds then remove them to save in paper envelopes before cutting back. You can plant them right away by scattering the seeds into your flower bed to enjoy next year.
Saving some seeds from your garden is also a great gift to share with friends!
4. Divide perennial plants
Fall is a great time to divide your perennial plants that have become too large and overcrowded.
After dividing you can transplant them into your garden and mulch well to protect them from frost and winter freezing. Plant divisions are also wonderful to share with friends to help them grow their gardens!
5. Plant fall flower bulbs, garlic, and walking onions
If you would like a beautiful show of early spring flowers now is the perfect time to plant your flower bulbs including crocus, tulips, and daffodils.
Likewise for planting garlic or perennial walking onions. The best time to plant is between mid-October and mid-November depending on your growing zone. You’ll want to do it before the ground freezes and mulch your planting area well to protect the bulbs.
6. Stake young trees and protect them for winter
Did you plant new trees this year? If you haven’t already staked them it’s best to get it done before winter sets in.
Fall can bring very strong winds and young trees that are blown back and forth can suffer from breaking off their roots. This often only happens when they have not yet become established. This is a great tip we learned from a local nursery!
Remember when tying trees to a stake not use rough wire around the trunk. Run the wire through a section of garden hose so that the wire doesn’t cut into the tree bark.
It is also a good idea to protect your tree trunks from rabbits and other animals that love to eat the bark in the winter. We use vinyl tree wrap that easily wraps around the trunk of trees to protect them from rodent damage and weed trimmers.
If you have a tree that is already damaged on the trunk using a breathable fabric tree wrap can help protect the trunk and allow healing at the same time.
7. Turn over your soil
While we prefer no-till methods and permaculture if you prefer to till your gardens fall is a great time to get it done.
Turning your soil over in the fall helps to loosen the soil so you can easily remove weed roots. Any that you miss are exposed to the frost and freezing of winter. This weakens and often kills the weeds completely.
8. Fall is a great time to apply compost to your garden
Our favorite way to add compost to our gardens is to sheet mulch the compost on top of our woodchip mulch.
The rain quickly washes the compost down through the woodchip mulch making it available to your plants but not disturbing the mulch that you’ve laid down.
If you’re not using a permanent mulch in your garden apply 2 to 3 inches of good quality compost on top of your growing beds.
Remember to screen your compost with this compost sifter that you can easily make yourself before adding it to your garden.
With a little care, you can keep your compost pile working all winter too.
9. Clean and put away your garden tools and equipment
Now that the garden season has come to an end it’s time to put away all the tools you’ve been using during the year.
Before storing for the winter take your garden tools and hose off any dirt. Let them dry well and then apply a light coating of oil to protect them from rusting. We like using just normal vegetable oil for this. We’ve used this for years and it works very well!
After your tools have been cleaned hang them up to keep them safe and your workshop tidy.
Don’t forget to go through your garden and put away any temporary trellis, netting, tomato cages, and any other equipment that could be damaged by the winter snows or tripped on.
10. Prepare new garden beds for spring
Fall is the perfect time of year to make new garden beds for planting next spring! Our favorite method of gardening is inspired by the Back to Eden method.
We lay down thick cardboard and if available 4 to 6 inches of compost topped with 4 inches or more of woodchip mulch.
Letting this new garden sit over winter makes it just perfect to plant into by spring. If you don’t have access to that much compost you can skip it and just apply the mulch over the cardboard or newspaper.
I know I said 10 tips but I just can’t leave this out it’s my favorite part! Now that your garden is all ready for fall, grab a blanket, a cup of coffee, or hot chocolate curl up by the woodstove with your seed catalogs, and dream about your garden all winter!
Don’t forget to grab a printable copy of these fall garden chores so you’ll never forget what you need to get done to get your garden ready for fall.