Help your fall and winter garden thrive - not just survive - with a few simple tasks you can do to prepare for the colder months. Print off the checklist to help keep you on track, choosing the chores that fit your space.
It's fall! Yay…maybe. The weather is changing and your garden along with it. And believe me, I hear you - as much as you love either gardening or the results of gardening (the flowers, food, beauty), you are tired. It's been a long haul since we were all excited about the promise of a new season last spring when we couldn't wait to get out in the yard.
You might still be swimming in produce to preserve, dealing with continued dry weather (i.e. watering…), or lots of rain - or you might be already focused on inside and wanting to just decorate with pumpkins! I get it - really - because I feel these things, too.
But here's the thing - even a few tasks done in your garden now can help your property thrive through the winter months. And make your spring tasks that much easier. Imagine less weeds, fewer things to cleanup, and plants that sailed through the snow and freezing temperatures.
With this in mind, I'm providing you with the basic chores you can do for your vegetable beds, flower beds, and grass now through December. You don't need to do all of them (and not all of them will apply to you, obviously, if you don't grow food or have a lawn, etc.), but know that each one you manage to check off the list will help your garden and keep it looking good.
At the end of this article you will find a printable checklist you can download for free by signing up for my newsletter (subscribers can find it in the VIP library). I suggest you print it out and highlight only the tasks you'd like to get done that apply to you and will give you the most bang for your buck. For me, that always means keeping up on weeds and mulching in both flower and vegetable beds, plus some basic deadheading and cleanup (but not too much - see more on this below.)
Fall and Winter Garden & Yard Tasks
Flower Beds & Containers
The tasks surrounding your flower beds basically are deadheading and cleanup - but not too much. Why not too much? Two reasons:
- Leaving flower heads and stalks on your plants can actually help them survive harsh winters. So if you live in areas that get regular freezing temps or snow (especially snow that comes and goes, resulting in freeze-thaw cycles), leave as much of the plant as you can stand to see.
- The flower heads will go to seed, providing winter food for the birds.
I concentrate on pulling dead leaves laying on the ground, pruning flowers that are bent or broken, and just a general "that looks better to me" type of guideline. If you kept up with your beds through the summer, you may not have much of this to do - good for you!
As you do this minimal cleanup, pull any weeds and refresh mulch (or apply if you never got to it - yes, it happens...). Mulch can be a garden compost, wood chips, pine needles, or even leaves IF you chop them first by running a mower over them. Otherwise the leaves can smother the tender plants as they try to emerge next spring.
The other thing to think about is planting bulbs for spring blooms from crocus, daffodils, or tulips. If you grow dahlias or gladiolas, you may want to dig them up to store to make sure they make it through the freeze. Or you can be like me and just treat them like annuals and if they make it through winter is a wonderful surprise!
You can also divide plants like daylilies and hostas and prune evergreens - if you'd like.
If you grow flowers in containers, many of them might be spent and not looking their best. You can pull, clean, and store some and plant others with fall mums, pansies, or other fall plants.
Depending on your weather, you may also be able to deadhead and revive some summer plants (like the begonia above) to become a part of your fall decor.
The fall months in the vegetable beds means continually cleaning up the debris as it dies. You'll want to compost what you can, but anything with diseases or bugs should be burned or thrown out to avoid passing it to the next season. As you pull plants, be sure to save the seeds from heirloom vegetables you want to grow again (not hybrid seeds, though - they may not come up again as the same plant).
Many areas can still plant cool, quick crops like lettuce and spinach (under cover if you get lots of rain or freezing) and fall is the best time to plant a garlic crop to harvest next June-July.
Mulching perennial vegetables and berries is a great way to prep them for cold weather.
General Fall and Winter Yard Care
Obviously if you have any trees you will be raking leaves! Leaves left on lawns will kill the sod, so this is a must-do task. Leaves are a great compost addition and work as a mulch if you mow them to chop them up.
Did you know that the fall is actually one of the best times to plant trees, perennials, and sow new grass? It's because the early warmer weather, increasing rains, and winter of dormant top growth allows the roots of plants to develop nice and deep, allowing your plant to start spring growth nicely established. And grass just likes all the consistent rain that fall usually brings.
You'll also want to clean your tools, drain any hoses and watering systems, store your outdoor furniture, and basically "batten down the hatches" for the winter.
There's one more thing you'll need to make sure to do this season:
Winter will be here before you know it, so take all the time you can to savor the season of changing leaves and fall blooms - even if you need a warm blanket and hot tea to be outside. It's just another beautiful way to enjoy our outdoor spaces!
Grab Your Free Printable Checklist!
The checklist is housed in a growing subscriber library for all my VIPs - new freebies are added regularly - where you will find more garden printables, a menu-planning eBook, easy-print recipes, pretty printables, and more.
Make This Year's Garden A Success!