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A little fall planning and prepping can really pay off come next spring. Autumn is the time to clean up beds, manage soil, prepare sod in order to minimize problems in the next growing season.

For many novice gardeners, the coming of cooler weather is often a sign to turn their attention away from the yard and garden, as it's usually too late to start growing any more of the classic summer garden vegetables, but fall gardens can also be productive, whether you're growing vegetables, greens, or flowers.

Fall garden prep is one of those maintenance chores that will help guarantee a beautiful and bountiful garden next season. Follow a few of our fall garden tips for a worry-free winter.


Give all of your plants a good drink, especially your trees. Their roots need plenty of moisture to make it through the upcoming months.

Lower the Height on Your Lawn Mower

Grass grows more slowly in fall, but it still needs to be cut to prepare for winter. A lower cutting height helps the soil dry out more quickly in spring.

Bring Tender Container Plants Indoors

Remove dead foliage and break up any hardened soil before hauling your cherished tropical plants (such as mandevilla, passionflower, and citrus) indoors for the winter. Keep an eye out for pests, too. Before bringing plants indoors, spray them, if necessary, to keep aphids, mealybugs, or other harmful insects out of your house.

Protect Cold-Sensitive Plants

Shrubs, roses, and perennials that might succumb to blasts of cold should be protected with mulch or another protective covering. Place these frost barriers after the first freeze.

Amend Your Soil

Get the ground ready for next year's beds and your fall bulbs by tilling the soil and adding home-made compost.

Learn to make and use your own compost at BHG

Fall and Winter Veggies and Herbs

The “regular” garden, where we grow our vegetables and herbs and a few cut flowers, should be cleaned up by now, with leftover plants pulled and composted, and weeds pulled, hoed or simply over and dug into the soil. Hopefully you have collected a few seeds of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, beans and other valuable “open pollinated” plants, to plant next year or to share with neighbors. This is a great time to check out online seed company sites to get in your orders early before favorite plants are sold out. Share favorite web sites with friends.

Clean up the Vegetable Garden

Remove weeds and debris so pests won't make your garden their winter home.

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Spread Mulch

To prevent weeds and help retain moisture, lay 2 to 3 inches of mulch (such as fine bark) over the soil around plants. Avoid piling it against trunks, crowns, or stems, as that can cause rot.

Nurture New Growers

All young ornamentals—even natives and drought-tolerant choices—need deep watering right after planting. Irrigate them deeply and thoroughly with the hose, even if you plan to let drip irrigation take over later. Give them regular water through the winter if rains are slight, and then beyond until they reach maturity at a year or two.

General Fall Task

In addition to planting spring bulbs and the aforementioned kale, set out a few winter-hardy annuals, including violas, and rework and mulch the beds you will leave bare over the winter.

Whether you're trying to extend your growing season, build soil health, put in some garden structures, plan for the spring, or decorate your home and yard, fall is a great time to be in the garden.


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