A fall gardening checklist is provided below to assist you in completing tasks. Take out your pen or pencil and jot down any ideas you have for your garden, just like making a shopping list for fall planting. When autumn arrives, you’ll have a plethora of fall gardening ideas and a plethora of ways to improve the appearance, health, and prospects for next spring in your garden. Cool weather makes it easier to get things done, especially when you’re not in as much of a rush as you are when doing spring cleaning.
Table of contents
- Planting Trees and Shrubs
- The Late Fall Flowers
- Lilies Fall Gardening Checklist
- Peonies, Iris and Other Perennials
- The Fall Harvest: Bulbs and Roots
- Vegetable Storage
- Fall Gardening Checklist for Compost and Humus
- Soil Improvement
- Perennial Protection
- Snow Protection
- Tree Protection
Begin by bringing in house plants and digging up or potting others to store indoors. Geraniums, active-growing petunias, and dwarf salvia are just a few examples. Before digging, remove a third of the tops: pot firmly, water, and keep in a warm place.
Spring lawns are planted in the fall. It’s time to start seeding and feeding. Grass grows best in most places during autumn because there is less weed competition. Crabgrass should be cut and removed before it sheds its seeds. Remove other weeds as well.
Loosen the soil in bare patches, then work in grass fertilizer or a complete plant food before sowing with a grass mixture appropriate for your conditions. When planted in the fall, it can withstand late-fall leaf raking without being harmed. Even on a healthy lawn, plant food and extra seed are recommended. Use 3 pounds plant food and 1/4 pound grass seed per 100 square feet for such “extra” growth.
Dig the area and mix peat moss and plant food with the surface soil to create a new lawn in the fall. Add at least 2 inches of extra topsoil if necessary. To achieve an even, firm surface, rake and roll two or three times. Sow one-half pound of grass seed per 100 square feet. Rake, then roll with a 200-pound roller.
Planting Trees and Shrubs
Plant evergreens any time between September and early October. This includes conifers such as pine, spruce, hemlock, and others, as well as broadleaf plants such as rhododendrons, mountain laurel, azaleas, and others. Everything has matured. A ball of soil is included with the plants. Set the plants at the same depth as in the nursery. Planting too deeply can harm the roots near the surface. Water thoroughly after packing soil against the root ball. Per plant, combine good soil with peat moss or humus and a handful of 5-10-5 fertiliser. Ordering and transplanting deciduous (leaf dropping) trees and shrubs is also possible in late September and October.
The following trees are possible exceptions: magnolia, birch, cherry, and dogwood, though dogwood is safe when dug from the nursery. A ball of soil is not required unless the trees or shrubs are large. Most bareroot shade and flowering trees up to 10 feet tall can be transplanted. However, keep the roots moist until they are planted. Flood with water after packing screened soil between the roots. Two stakes should be used to secure single-stemmed trees planted in this manner.
The Late Fall Flowers
Dahlias, chrysanthemums, and roses require water but no fertilizer right now. Overfeeding may cause soft plants to be damaged by winter freezing. Dahlia roots may soften and become unsuitable for storage. To prevent mildew, dust or spray them with sulphur or an all-purpose chemical. Stake and tie tall plants to protect them from September winds.
Lilies Fall Gardening Checklist
Plant the “base rooting” varieties, which sprout immediately. Early autumn Madonna, canadense, martagon, superbum, and Washington lily. Plant stem-rooting varieties in late autumn or early spring. Cover the bulb’s top with 3 inches of well-draining soil.
Peonies, Iris and Other Perennials
In the autumn, lift, divide, and replant peonies. Raise the entire plant carefully, wash the soil from the roots, and divide it into sections, each with at least three eyes (buds); five to seven give a better chance of flowering the following year. Peonies planted in the fall get a head start in the spring. Peonies can live for 25 years if planted in rich, deep soil. If regular rotted manure is not available, combine 4 parts dried cattle manure and 1 part bone meal and work it in before planting. When planting, bury the buds no deeper than 1 inch. Peonies require direct sunlight to thrive.
Handle bleeding heart’s exceptionally brittle roots similarly. Allowing them to dry slightly in the sun made separation easier. Separate clumps of Iris at this time as well. They will flower the following year if the sections are not too small, three to four roots (rhizomes). From October to early November, all types of perennials can be lifted, divided, and replanted. Before replanting, prepare the soil by incorporating manure or compost, bone meal, and superphosphate.
The Fall Harvest: Bulbs and Roots
Soon after the first frost, cut the tops of dahlias, cannas, and tuberous begonias. Leave a 6-inch stub for handling dahlias. To keep begonias and cannas from drying out, store them with as much soil on the roots as possible. Normal cellar conditions are appropriate. Dahlia roots must be allowed to dry slowly. Place it somewhere out of the sun. When the soil on the roots has dried, clean them off, trim the old stem stub even more, and store them in a cool cellar or garage where they will not freeze.
Gladiolus should be dug before frost or as soon as the leaves turn brown. Dig while the leaves are still attached. Cut off the leaves as soon as possible, then remove the paper-like covering from around the bulbs (corms), and store. Dust with a fungicide, such as sulphur dust. Remove spotted and diseased corms, as well as old shrivelled corms. Store in shallow boxes or onion mesh bags. Old nylon stockings also work well.
Beets, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes (late) must be stored in a cool place after being harvested from the vegetable garden. Except for potatoes, all vegetables could be kept outside for longer periods of time by ridging soil over the rows in the garden. Bushel baskets or boxes submerged in the ground will suffice for small lots. Celery can be kept by covering the row with soil. Cabbage is best when dug and stored in a cool cellar. Store eggplant, peppers, and pumpkins in a cool, dry place. Tomatoes picked before frost and wrapped in newspaper will ripen in two weeks. Cover radishes, lettuce, endive, and other greens with cardboard, burlap, or plastic sheeting each evening to keep them in the garden longer.
Fall Gardening Checklist for Compost and Humus
Compost everything except diseased and insect-infested material. All questionable materials should be burned. If possible, separate the leaves from the rest of the materials. Begin with a layer of coarse leaves, corn stalks, or dried stems at the bottom. Spread a layer of the mixed materials 6 inches deep next. Spread a pound or more of any fertiliser, compost activator, or dried cow or chicken manure over a 4 x 5-foot area, then cover with a thin layer of soil. Thoroughly wet. To build the pile, repeat the process layer by layer. A 5-foot height is sufficient. The pile can be as long as you want. Maintain a 6 foot width. Mulching attachments for power tools come in handy during the fall season.
Sow rye or rye grass seed on areas left vacant by the removal of fall crops in the garden to increase the humus supply. Three pounds per 1,000 square feet is more than enough. Rake the seed in like you’re making a lawn. It is not necessary to roll.
Remove all crop residue and weeds before a hard frost threatens. Once the soil surface is clear, add organic matter – chopped leaves, compost, manure – to a depth of 4-6 cm to replenish the nutrients lost by this summer’s crops. Dig the soil and leave it bare over the winter. Allow the soil’s network of creatures to do their job of converting organic matter into food for next year’s crops. Cover sloping ground with soil to prevent erosion. A rye cover crop, a layer of compost, leaves, hay, or something similar will prevent erosion.
Do not cover outdoor hardy and semi-hardy plants in the winter until all growth has stopped. Frost kills growth by opening tissue and preparing plants for winter. Cover roses with soil around the base of the stems after several frost touches. Although not all northern rose growers agree on covering, many do. Cover the pink spires (caryopteris), shrubs like the crapemyrtle of the South, and other tender plants.
For low plants, an inverted bushel basket stuffed with leaves is ideal. Climbing roses should be protected. In the winter, temperatures drop below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Removing stems from their supports, tying them together, and placing them on the ground, covered with 3 inches of soil. In extremely cold areas, it is common practice to loosen the roots on one side and tip the entire plant over into a trench. When the stems are frozen, no bending is possible. They’ll break off. So start early. Marsh (salt) hay is used to cover pansies and English daisies.
Evergreens should be protected in a different way and for a different reason. Wind exposure causes the leaves to dry out, especially if the roots are in frozen soil. Covering the root area with a leaf mulch and using a wind barrier are two methods of protection. Burlap tied to stakes, pine branches pushed into the ground, or smaller ones tied to several stems of the plants serve as windbreaks.
Strawberries, hardy perennials, and rock garden plants are the last to be covered. When the ground is frozen, this is the best time to do it. The plants will rot if they are covered while still soft. Cover soft-crowned plants such as delphinium, columbine, Liatris, and anchusa with a cone of coal ashes or three parts soil to one part sand. Others are protected by a light layer of marsh hay held in place by twiggy branches. In wet weather, provisions must be made for water to drain and not collect around the plants. Cover spring flowering bulb garden beds completely after the ground freezes, as mice may spend the winter there.
In heavy snow areas, bushy evergreens are vulnerable to injury when deep snow collects in the interior, splitting them apart. Burlap strips wrapped in a spiral will provide some protection. Tieing the stems together in the interior is still preferable.
During the winter, rabbits and mice can peel the bark off the stems of fruit trees, especially newly planted ones. Surround these with a 2 foot high band of close-mesh chicken wire. Burlap strips or special tree paper can be used to wrap newly planted shade and flowering tree stems. This guards against frost damage and the effects of freezing winds.
If you thought your gardening work was done after spring and late summer, this fall gardening checklist makes you think again!