To review the June newsletter CLICK HERE
GardenSMART Newsletter Signup
Visit our Sponsors! encore azalea Dramm
Visit our Sponsors and win.
10 Fall Gardening Tasks to Make Your Garden Sing Next Spring

10 Fall Gardening Tasks to Make Your Garden Sing Next Spring

By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®

It’s been a beautiful summer…and now you smell a hint of fall in the air and your thoughts are turning to pumpkins and warm cozy nights by the fire. Still, it’s not time to hang up your rake until the last gardening tasks of the season are complete. Here are ten essential fall tasks to finish before the snow flies.

GardenSMART Article Image

  1. Evaluate your garden spaces. Take a good look at your garden. Where could you add new plants to create a private, outdoor oasis? How can you extend your garden’s season-long color, or add winter interest? Whether you choose to plant now or later, fall is a great time to plan and prepare your outdoor areas so you can jump right into garden projects next spring.
  2. Divide and conquer. Decide which plants need to be divided and/or moved to a better spot. Many plants will tolerate this activity just fine in the fall. Just be sure to have the spot where you want to transplant ready so you can drop the plant into its new home as soon as it’s uprooted.
  3. Remove annuals from containers. It was a great run, but by the time fall rolls around, it’s time for the annuals to go and to store your pots away for winter. Healthy annuals can be composted.
  4. Cut perennials back. Once your perennials have gone dormant, it’s a good idea to clean at least some of their foliage out of garden beds. This is especially important around plants like hostas that have received slug damage during the growing season. There are some, however, you should not cut back – Proven Winners makes this process simple by providing maintenance notes for each plant on its website.
  5. Dispose of diseased foliage; compost the rest. While most of the annuals emptied from pots and cut back foliage can go in your compost pile, you don’t want to risk spreading diseases back into your garden in the spring. Bag and seal any diseased plant material and dispose of it in the trash.

GardenSMART Article Image

  1. Fall is for planting! Still-warm soil and relatively cool air temperatures promote healthy root growth in plants that return each year. You can plant many varieties of shrubs and perennials up to six weeks before your ground freezes. The date that your ground actually freezes varies from year to year, of course, and some areas won’t have frozen ground at all. If you’re unsure, mid-November is a safe planting deadline for nearly everyone.
  2. Don’t forget the bulbs! Get those spring flowering bulbs in the ground now and you’ll be rewarded with bright, cheerful color next year, when winter subsides. Tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and more are already on display at your local garden center. Pair them with small shrubs like dwarf butterfly bush, and perennials like hostas or catmint, so the bulbs’ foliage will be hidden by the time they go dormant.
  3. Provide supplemental water. Autumn weather can be quite cool and rainy, but that doesn’t mean that new plantings should be ignored, particularly if weather has been dry and/or windy. Water all plants thoroughly after planting, and continue to water them as needed until the ground freezes.
  4. Mulch. Just as you pile on blankets and quilts when the temperatures dip, mulch acts as insulation for plants. While even established plants benefit from a nice layer of mulch, newly planted specimens especially appreciate the protection it offers from the challenges of winter. Shredded leaves make an excellent mulch for this purpose.
  5. Bring the outdoors in. Fall is the perfect time to gather cut branches and dried flowers from the garden to use in your indoor decorating projects. Hydrangea flowers, colorful branches, and plants with seed pods can all be brought indoors this time of year.

When you are just starting out, knowing when to plant can be intimidating. But don’t worry, Mother Nature is really pretty forgiving. The perfect time to plant isn't just one or two days. Prime planting time goes on for weeks. So, relax, enjoy the sunshine and feel the dirt in your hands!

GardenSMART Article Image

Feeling inspired?

Here are five Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs that are perfect for fall planting:

  • Roses (Rosa) Try the Oso Easy® line of beautiful, low maintenance, disease resistant roses. Oso Easy Double Red® rose is 48” tall and wide and hardy down to zone 4. 

GardenSMART Article Image

  • Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) Try the Invincibelle® line of super-hardy hydrangeas. Invincibelle Wee White® hydrangea is just 30” tall and wide and is hardy down to zone 3.

GardenSMART Article Image

  • Smokebush (Cotinus) Try Winecraft Black® (USDA zone 4-8), top photo, or the chartreuse Winecraft Gold™ (USDA 5-8) smokebush, above. Both are compact, reaching heights/widths of 72”.
  • Spirea (Spiraea) Try Double Play Doozie®, which reblooms all summer without shearing. It reaches heights/widths of 36” and is hardy down to USDA zone 3.

GardenSMART Article Image

  • Weigela Try the Sonic Bloom® series of reblooming weigela, available in a variety of colors. Sonic Bloom® Pink weigela makes a statement at 60” tall/wide and is hardy down to zone 4.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

Article URL:

Back to Articles List                               

GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photos courtesy of Suntory Flowers

As summer heats up, the garden party is just beginning for gorgeous, tropical mandevillas. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

  Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!  
Copyright © 1998-2012 GSPC. All Rights Reserved.