Fall is a wonderful time of year in the garden. There are many tasks that can be done, but remember few are absolutely necessary! My best advice is to relax – most plants will come through the winter without any special treatment. Here are a few ideas – in approximate order (September – December).
Catch up now the weather is cooler. Pay special attention to ‘bad’ perennial weeds – thistle, vetch, bind weed, couch grass etc.
Take photos, make notes & plans
Walk around your garden with a ‘critical eye’. Make notes & plans while everything is fresh in your mind. Was your garden lacking colour in any particular season? Are plants in the wrong place?
Perennial clean up & cut down
Cut perennials back selectively, leaving any that might have good winter interest ie. Ornamental grasses, Rudbeckia, Echinacea etc. A good set of sharp hand pruners is usually fine (Felco is the brand that is used by professionals), but some plants go faster with hand shears or even a whipper snipper. Definitely cut down all plants that wilt in the winter ie. Hosta, Daylily etc.
Definitely cut down any disease or insect prone perennials ie. Tall Phlox, Beebalm, Hollyhock
Do not cut down any woody perennials ie. Russian Sage, Lavender, Thyme, Mallow, Buddleia. The best method if you have large gardens is to throw all the cuttings onto a tarp, then drag to the compost. Remember no cutting down has to be done in fall!!
Check out the tip – Move, reorganise, divide perennials (‘renovation’)
Plant new perennials
After your garden renovating, you may find gaps for more plants. Fall is a great time to plant new plants. They will have enough time to make new roots and then be ready to take off in the Spring. Plant deep to avoid heaving from frost.
Add a few new bulbs every year. Some multiply well (Daffodils), some die out with time or get eaten by animals (Tulips). My favourites right now are any kind of Daffodil, Muscari, Alliums & species Tulips.
Mulch / manure gardens
Now is the time to top up or apply mulch. Natural Cedar bark strips are our favourite and will help reduce weeding and watering – Yipee!! If your gardens are looking a little tired and plants struggling, adding some well rotted cow or horse manure will help as it contains more ‘food’ than wood mulch.
Check out the tip: Protect tender plants for the winter
Enjoy your garden in winter!