Last-Minute Chores for Your Late-Fall Garden

Tuck your garden into bed for the year and give your soil, your plants, and yourself a nourishing rest with these final tasks!

 

You’ve dug up the annuals, put away the vegetable plot, and done everything you needed in advance of the first frost. But as we wait for the first blanket of snow, there are still a few tasks to knock off the chore list. They may not be absolutely necessary, but why not enjoy a few more afternoons outside and improve the fall garden for next year!  

 

Rake and Compost 

It doesn’t hurt to let a few leaves cover your garden over winter, but if you have significant raking to do, seize the chance to improve your compost pile. Dry leaves make an excellent complement to nitrogen-rich vegetable scraps and lawn clippings. Mix them in and while you’re at it, turn the compost heap a few times before winter.

 

pitchfork and compost pileNourish the Soil 

With the beds cleared out and the foliage died back, it’s easy to access the soil of your fall garden. Take the chance to spread a layer of compost or manure. It will continue to break down beneath the snow and create a rich layer of microbes and nutrients to work into the soil come springtime.   

 

Remove Diseased Foliaged 

You don’t want the troubles of the past season to turn up again next year. Take the time to remove any diseased foliage from your fall garden and make sure to send it off your property. Ideally, a well-made compost pile should be hot enough to cook any pests, but you don’t want to take the chance by bringing infected plants into the mix.  

 

Water Your Trees and Shrubs

Winter is actually the dry season of our year. All the moisture is locked away in snow and ice, and the biting winds can dry out our trees and shrubs—not to mention our own skin. So even though all their growth has stopped, it’s good to give them a good drink in the fall. You can do it anytime before the ground freezes in earnest.  Deep watering in the fall will really help plants stay hydrated in a windy cold season and reduce winter burn on susceptible evergreens like boxwood and holly.

 

winterizing trees and shrubs by wrapping themWinterize Trees and Shrubs 

Hungry deer and rabbits may be tempted to snack on the bark of young trees over the winter. To keep them away, you can spray a repellent like Bonide Repels All or Liquid Fence or wrap a cage around the base. A thick layer of bark mulch can also protect by keeping the moisture in and act as an extra buffer against freeze and thaw cycles. If you have questions about winterizing specific plants, always feel free to contact the experts at our garden center in Bettendorf for more advice.   

 

Finish Weeding

You thought it’d be over by now, but weeding is on the chore list of every season, except winter. No one says your fall garden has to be spotless, but as you’re waiting for the ground to freeze, why not save yourself the effort next spring by taking care of the last remaining weeds? Plus, with other plants out of the way, it’s a good time to tackle the neglected bed that’s been overrun with grass.     

 

Edge Beds 

Spring is a busy time. Why not check off another task from your chore list by touching up your edges now. Redefining a few contours in the fall can save you from a bigger job next spring when the perennials are already growing into the lawn, and the grass is creeping into the garden.

 

planting spring blooming bulbsPlant Bulbs 

It may be too late to plant perennials, but as long as the fall garden is workable, there’s time to plant more spring-flowering bulbs. If you’ve been procrastinating or simply haven’t thought about it, take the time to bury daffodils, tulips, crocuses, and more for early blooms next year.

 

Clean Your Tools 

They’ve served you well all year and will continue to serve you if you give them extra love before winter. It’s best to clean off the dirt, wash them down, sharpen them, and oil the blades. You can even rub linseed oil into the handles. With your tools in top shape, your gardening can debut effortlessly next season!

 

Relax

Fall is the time to rest and enjoy the bounty of the harvest. Before you move into a new season, take out your garden journal, or the notes app on your phone, and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Tally up your successes, take stock of the family memories, and thank your garden for the abundance it provided this year.

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