Learn about several fall garden dos and don'ts as you wrap up the season and prepare for next year's garden.
Today I'm sharing some of my favorites dos and don'ts for the fall garden.
Fall Garden Dos and Don'ts
Do Keep Seed Heads on Perennials
Unless the plant is disease ridden or you just can't stand the slight unruliness, leave the seed heads on the plant for birds and other wildlife. It will provide refuge, food, and a little winter interest when the cold weather arrives. You can tackle cutting them back in late winter or early spring. After all, that's just about the time when you are chomping at the bit to get outside.
Once again unless there is a problem with death, disease or you just can't stand the look, it's best to wait until late winter or early spring (possibly even later) to prune your trees and shrubs. Why? Pruning encourages new growth and fall is the time of year that these plants should be winding down and getting ready for dormancy.
Do Divide Perennials - Especially Peonies
Even though I like to divide perennials in the spring when they are small and easy to separate, peonies are said to do best when transplanted in the fall. Make sure you have 3 or more eyes for each division to ensure a healthy plant.
Don't Bother Raking Leaves in Garden Beds
Allowing them to lay in the bed will give your plants extra winter protection and some will naturally decompose and add nutrients to the soil. This picture was take in early spring and you can see that the peony is having no problem coming up through the leaves. Of course, once spring comes it's a good idea to rake the leaves, add compost and mulch for the new season.
Do Plant Spring Bloom Bulbs
This is a no-brainer but something I forget. You'll be rewarded come springtime. In fact, fall is a good time to plant other shrubs and trees. So take advantage of some of the end-of-season nursery deals. Here are some of the deer resistant bulbs I planted last year.
Don't Fertilize in the Fall
Again, just like pruning, fall is not the time to encourage new growth. Allow your plants to harden off and shut down their top growth for winter.
Do Take Notes
Even if you haven't been keeping a garden journal, fall is a good time to make notes of what you need to do next year. What has done well, problem areas and plans for next season. This will be a big help in the winter when you are bored and want to start planning for the spring. Composition pads are super cheap this time of year. Print out this a free coloring page to create a simple journal for your garden notes.
Don't Forget to Bring in Tender Plants
All your tender plants that have been enjoying the sun and warmth need to be brought in before it gets too cold at night. See what to consider when bringing plants indoors for more details.