Updated: Oct 27, 2018
by Carol Siddall, Master Gardener
I love fall. The temperature is cooler, and it is fun to be out in the garden. The perfect time for clean up.
Clean it up: You will want to remove weeds, plants that have died, and any leaf debris. This is where pests and diseases like to over winter.
Cut back your perennials: Since these plants come back next spring, cutting off the foliage a few inches above the ground is preferred.
Remove spent annuals and seasonal vegetables: Annuals do not come back year after year so pull them up, roots and all. Place in your compost pile.
Compost only the healthy material: When you are cleaning up, be sure you add only pest-free and non-diseased plants to your compost pile. You will need to destroy any diseased plant material, or at least remove it from your garden. If your compost doesn’t get hot enough, pests and pathogens can return.
Amend your soil: Adding homemade compost, manure, blood meal, and bone meal are a great way to improve the long term health of your soil naturally. By adding them in the fall, they have time to break down into a form your plants can use.
Add mulch: A fresh layer of mulch provides protection over plant roots. The mulch will decompose improving your soil as well.
Winterize containers: Not all plants and containers are able to withstand the winter outdoors. Containers can freeze and crack, and non-hardy plants can die when roots are exposed to the elements. This is not a big problem in our area, but if you have a greenhouse or sunroom, you might consider moving them inside.
The bottom line is, the extra effort we take in the fall gives us big dividends in the spring. Happy Fall.