Fall Checklist

1. Plant Bulbs, Shrubs, and Trees. Planting in fall brings spring flowers and foliage and you don’t have to sweat the heat. Make sure to plant at least 4 weeks before the first frost and spread plenty of mulch for winter protection. Learn more about planting bulbs, shrubs, and trees in fall from the garden advice article, Fall is the Best Season for Planting Shrubs and Trees and the choosing plants article, Fall Bulbs vs Spring Bulbs.

2. Deadhead perennials and annuals. Continue deadheading perennials and annuals to keep them lush and beautiful while they’re still blooming. Also, remove tattered leaves and other spent foliage. See the care tips article, How to Prune, to learn more about pruning techniques.

3. Bring the container plants indoors. If you are growing a container plant outside of its hardiness zone, you may be able to save it through winter by bringing it inside. For plants requiring full sun, place them near a sunny east or south facing window.

4. Weed, feed, and mulch. Keep the beds tidy by pulling out all weeds and removing unwanted waste, including spent foliage and fallen leaves in and around the plants. Carefully loosen the soil around the plants and mix in some organic matter/plant food to provide nutrients through winter. It is extremely important that you do not use a time release or other strong fertilizer as you don’t want to promote new growth – you only want to ensure the plants have nutrients to continue healthy growth. To learn more about organic soil amendments, see the garden advice article, Green Gardening – Organic Alternatives. After mixing organic matter into the soil, liberally spread at least 2 inches of mulch to help protect plants from the cold and provide additional nutrients.

5. Fill or build a compost bin. If you have a compost bin, add fallen leaves, debris, and other organic materials along with water to keep the materials wet. Add organic materials and water through fall and winter and turn the pile regularly to quicken the composting process. If you don’t already have a composting bin, build or purchase one now and you’ll have a place for all those leaves.