Although spring marks the start of peak gardening season, now is the time to prep your flowering beds and plants. Fall gardening is predominantly about pruning plants and protecting the soil from erosion and nutrient depletion.
- Cut back perennials that are showing signs of yellow foliage. Avoid pruning plants that may provide winter sustenance for birds (e.g. coneflowers and black-eyed Susans).
- Rake leaves. Why? Prolonged coverage of foliage means that the grass won’t get sufficient sunlight. Contrary to popular belief, most types of grass in the North continue to grow until late October through late November, depending on frost conditions.
- If you have evergreens in your backyard, gather the foliage/needles and use as a top dressing for winter beds. The needles provide shading and protection from freezing and thawing as well as mitigation of soil erosion.
- Tie up ornamental grass clumps using heavy-gauge twine and wooden stakes.
- Plant a cover crop on the vegetable garden. Cover crops like oats and field peas germinate quickly and add organic material to the soil.
- Place a dressing of compost or aged manure on cleaned landscape beds; your plants will thank you in the spring.
- Stake young trees that were recently planted, as their immature root systems make them particularly vulnerable to cold and wind.
For additional tips on gardening and general home maintenance in the fall, see HGTV.com and Better Homes and Gardens.