For die hard gardeners, putting the garden to bed every fall can be a sad process.  If done well, however, it can be a sign that the garden will be healthy and prosperous next spring.  The end of gardening season can be a great time to reflect back on the things that were successful and those that flopped.  Let’s look at the proper steps to closing your precious garden this autumn.

  1. Clean the Area – Dig up all the dead or rotting plants that will not grow again next year. Clear the garden of all weeds and annuals.
  2. Access Damage – Check the fencing and posts that surround the garden and that keeps out those pesky animals that just love to nibble on your garden.  Now is a good time while the weather is cool to fix damage to the fencing. Assessing damage could also be taking stock of any pests that have damaged the area.
  3. Mulch or Compost – Some gardeners add mulch or compost to help keep down weeds and hold moisture in.  The mulch/compost also serves as a good insulator during the colder months. The addition of the mulch and compost will add much needed nutrients that were lost during the summer months.
  4. Divide – Fall is a great time to divide overgrown plants like Hosta.
  5.  Watering – Water your perennials and flowering shrubs in the fall; they will thank you for it this winter.
  6. First Frost – Once the ground has frozen hard, cut perennials back to 3 inches and mulch them with a thick layer of leaves or straw.
  7. Bushes and Shrubs in the Garden – Protect small trees or shrubs from extreme cold by wrapping them in burlap or covering with a wooden shield so that the snow will not damage the branches.
  8. Indoor Plants – If you plan to harbor some plants indoor this winter this is the time the make the move before the weather gets too cold.

A few easy steps this fall can make to an easy start next spring.  Instead of thinking of the fall clean up as the end, instead think of it as preparing for next year!