The arrival of fall means it’s time to start thinking about cleaning up your garden. While fall garden clean-up may not be the most exciting task for many gardeners, it’s a crucial step in maintaining a healthy garden and setting the stage for a vibrant spring. Whether you prefer a minimalistic approach or a more thorough clean-up, there are some essential tasks you should consider to ensure your garden thrives in the coming seasons.
1. Clear Out Your Vegetable Garden:
Start your garden clean-up by removing any spent plant materials. Dispose of any diseased materials in the trash, unless you have a hot compost pile. Additionally, compost the healthy materials to enrich your soil for the next growing season. If you still have healthy and growing plants, leave them be to continue harvesting.
2. Trim Perennials:
Trim back certain perennials in the fall to reduce the risk of diseases and make spring clean-up easier. However, some perennials can be left untouched until spring. Deciding which to cut back and which to leave can depend on the specific plant and your region’s climate.
3. Leaf Management:
Rake fallen leaves from your garden. If you have only a few leaves and a mulching mower, consider chopping them up and using them as lawn fertilizer. Alternatively, you can run the mower over the leaves several times and then spread them on your perennial beds for both mulch and nutrients.
4. Mow the Lawn:
Give your lawn one last mow when it appears to have stopped growing. Some sources recommend cutting the grass shorter for winter, while others suggest maintaining it at a 3-inch height. The University of Minnesota advises maintaining the grass height before winter, to minimize disease that can occur if the grass is too long during the winter months. Note: Applying fall fertilizer is not required for a healthy garden or lawn.
Ensure any newly planted trees, shrubs, or perennials receive adequate water. This will help them enter winter in optimal condition and promote root development.
6. Clean Containers:
As your container plants may be looking a bit worse for wear by fall, empty them and add the soil to your compost pile. Give the containers a thorough scrub with a wire brush before storing them for the winter.
7. Tool Maintenance:
Don’t forget about your gardening tools. Take some time to clean your shovels, trowels, pruners, and other tools. Regular maintenance will extend the lifespan of your tools. Cleaning your gardening tools can also help stop the spread of plant pathogens that can otherwise be transferred and infect your plants.
Embrace the Seasonal Transition
After accomplishing these tasks, it’s time to head indoors, savor a beverage that suits your preference—hot or cold—and embrace the fall and winter seasons. The thoroughness of your fall garden clean-up not only promotes your garden’s well-being but also positions you for a rejuvenating start when spring arrives.