Your Fall To-do List: 11 Essential Garden Tasks

With cooler temperatures, autumn is the ideal time to get back out into the garden, whether you’re adding new plants or maintaining your existing garden. 

Here is a list of 11 essential tasks for your garden this fall:

1.  Weeding - By pulling out weeds before they flower and set seeds, there will be fewer that overwinter. 

2.  Collect and dispose of (in the trash, not the compost pile) any diseased or insect infested leaves. This will reduce the potential of overwintering spores or insects infecting new growth in the spring, especially with plants like roses. 

3.  Cut back perennials that bloomed in the spring, leaving enough of the stem to mark where they are planted. This will spare you the frustration of accidentally digging up established plants when you decide to add more plants to your garden. 

4.  Pick one section of your garden and improve the soil by adding compost (digging in one to two inches of compost).

5.  Add 1- to 2-inches of a fine bark mulch around trees, shrubs and perennials. Make sure to keep mulch from piling up around trunks or stems where moisture can build up, weaken stems and make it easier for pest and disease problems to occur. 

6.  Plant some spring flowering bulbs. I always look forward to adding more daffodils and trying a few bulbs I haven’t grown before like the species tulip, Tulipa ‘Tinka.’ Or, maybe I’ll add some Tulipa ‘Lady Jane,’ a selection I used to grow in my former garden where it came back reliably for years. These small species tulips will act like perennials, provided they don’t receive too much moisture in the summer. A combination I admired this past spring at The Atlanta Botanical Garden, and one I may try pairs Tulipa ‘Lady Jane’ with Ipheion uniflorum ‘Rolf Feidler.’

7.  Take an inventory of your successes and failures in the garden over the past year. Take a photo of what the garden looks like now. This will be a valuable reference tool.

8.  Plant a container combination for winter so you will have something to enjoy on days when the garden is quiet. ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia surrounded by violas will look good for months and require a minimum amount of care.

9.  Add at least one new shrub or tree to your garden. This will give you something to look forward to in the spring. Make sure to keep any new plantings well watered throughout fall and winter while they put down roots. 

10.  Make a list of projects and plants to add in the spring. 

11.  Visit a public garden in your area and discover plants that shine in autumn.