Autumn gardening can be delightful as the temperatures are not as hot as mid summer and there are fewer insects around to deal with as you work. It is also a critical time of year for honey bees as they prepare their hives for winter. Ensuring that your garden is still a haven for them—by having an abundance of fall blooming flowers and an adequate water supply not clogged by leaves and debris will help ensure that honey bees visiting your garden have a better chance of surviving the winter.
September is also a time to review what worked and what didn’t in your garden this year and doing some end of season maintenance. You could chose to clean and tidy everything up so your garden is well-groomed going into winter or you decide to let some plants go to seed and let the falling leaves remain. Regardless of your gardening philosophy, you will still need to remove anything that is disease- or pest-ravaged so it does not contaminate your garden.
This fall garden checklist is a useful reference for you to help get your garden ready for winter:
- Take the time to write down what you liked and didn’t like about your garden this year, whether you had any insect or disease issues, and what plants you’d like to add in the spring.
- Plant fall annuals and pull out fading summer annuals
- Cut back and transplant perennials if needed.
- Plant spring blooming bulbs. Distribute mulch over the soil to prevent squirrels from discovering these new bulbs.
- Plant cold hardy trees, shrubs and perennials. Cooler days, but warm soil help support healthy root growth.
- Water evergreens if the soil is dry going into the colder months. Lack of water can lead to winter-burn of leaves and needles over the winter.
- Add finely mulched leaves to your lawn by using your lawn mower for a useful and free fertilizer. You should still see the grass, so if you have too many leaves, you will need to rake some of the up.
- Clean and sharpen your gardening implements before storing them away for the winter.
- When the temperatures are consistently below 50 degrees (and the honey bees are not leaving their hives), empty birdbaths and fountains and cover them to avoid cracking. Cover any water features with a fine mesh net to keep leaves out and fish safe from hungry birds.
- Mulch flowerbeds to protect roots and add organic matter to the soil.
Autumn is often a lovely time of the year. Even though these garden chores are important, remember that this beautiful weather only lasts for a short time. Be sure to plan time to just enjoy being outdoors, whether it is taking a hike or drive to see the brightly colored leaves, visiting a local farm for a fall festival, reading a book outside, attending an outdoor sporting event, or however you like to relax.