Cooler temperatures and shorter days always remind us that gardening season is winding down. Before you can put your garden to bed for the winter, you must prepare it for the long winter sleep. Use our checklist of Autumn Garden Chores as a helpful tool and reminder of the most critical fall tasks to avoid neglecting anything.
1. Turn Off Outdoor Water Faucets and Irrigation Systems
Be sure you turn off outdoor water supplies before a hard freeze. This is something you must do to prevent pipes from bursting.
2. Plant Spring-Blooming Bulbs
Fall is the time to plant tulips, daffodils, and other spring bulbs. Do it now to ensure that the bulbs establish roots before growth cycles shut down over the winter.
3. Dig Up Non-Hardy Bulbs and Tubers
The hottest garden flowering and foliage plants this year have been tropicals. Whether you’ve planted them in pots or the ground, you’ll need to protect them from the killing winter cold. Cut them back to the top of the bulb, tuber or rhizome. Put clean and dry bulbs in a cool dark place for the winter.
4. Plant Cool Weather Vegetables
We’re lucky enough to be able to live in an area where the brutal conditions of winter are a short time away. Now is the time to plant short season vegetables like arugula, spinach, peas, radishes, kale, and Swiss Chard.
5. Cover Garden Beds With a Thick Layer of Mulch
Homemade compost is the best mulch. In addition to moderating soil temperatures below the surface, mulch breaks down, adding valuable nutrients that feed your plants – even while they’re dormant over the winter months.
6. Wash Hoses, Garden Tools, and Pots Before Storing
Washing garden tools is a vital way to prevent the spread of disease. Make sure you thoroughly clean and dry tools, hoses, and pots before you store them. Sterilize anything that came in contact with diseased plants or the soil they grew in.
7. Rake Up Leaves and Throw Them in Compost Heap
Leaving leaves on the grass can choke out existing grass. Lack of air circulation and moisture encourage mold growth, You must remove them from the sidewalk to prevent injuries and facilitate snow removal. Put them in the compost heap where they’ll decompose and turn into the best organic soil amendment there is.
You don’t have to do all of these chores at once. Spending a few hours each weekend to make sure that everything gets done before your first hard freeze will protect your garden over the winter, and help it get a running start when the weather starts to warm up next spring.