5-Minute Garden Chores for Fall
Before the snow flies, spend a few minutes on these garden chores to be sure your yard is ready for winter.
Ready or not, here comes winter! For many folks, fall means the end of outdoor gardening. Before you close up shop for the season, take a moment or two to address some fall garden chores. These simple tasks don’t need to take hours, but they’ll make for a better gardening experience when spring finally arrives.
Discover why fall is the perfect time to plant perennials.
Mark Plant Locations
Now’s the time to use sturdy plant markers to note the location of any new perennials, bulbs, or seeds you might forget about come spring. There’s nothing more frustrating than accidentally weeding out seedlings in the spring along with pesky weeds, or planting something on top of something else without realizing it. There’s no need for anything fancy. Try a permanent marker and paint stir stick, topped with a coat of clear gloss spray enamel. You don’t need it to look pretty. You just need it to last until spring.
Fall is also a good time to divide perennials. Discover why dividing perennials is good for your plants AND your budget.
Courtesy Yvonne Grant
Protect Your Roses
If you’re a rose gardener, this is one of those garden chores that goes without saying. But if you’re new to growing roses, or have a special rose bush you’d like to protect, this chore is worth a few minutes of your time. Trim tall canes and cover roses with straw or evergreen boughs to protect the plants from cold weather. If you use rose cones, make sure they are vented. You can also cover roses with dry leaves and wrap them with hardware cloth or burlap. Before covering roses, clean up any diseased leaf debris and apply a new layer of mulch to your beds.
Follow these tips to cover and protect shrubs in winter.
Lift Tender Bulbs
Some plants grow well outdoors in the summer, but just can’t take the winter cold. These include plants like dahlias, gladioli, and tuberous begonias, depending on where you live. Lifting plants generally involves digging them up carefully, ridding them of excess dirt, allowing the bulb or tuber to dry out, and storing carefully in a cool dry place for the winter (garages are often ideal, but protect your treasures from mice). Learn more about how to overwinter non-hardy bulbs.
Clean and Store Your Tools and Hoses
It’s true that this is one of those garden chores that might take more than five minutes, depending on how many garden tools you have. At the very minimum, though, fall is the time to give everything a good spray-down with the garden hose to remove excess dirt, and allow them to dry thoroughly before storing them away to avoid rust. Bonus: Drain your garden hoses and bring them in when you’re done, since water left in hoses over winter can lead to cracking and bursting.
Psst—here’s 5 essential tools for fall garden cleanup.
Leave the Leaves Alone
This last chore takes the least amount of time, but possibly the most willpower! Many of us were brought up to believe we must tidy up our yards in the fall, removing all the fallen leaves. In truth, you might be doing more harm than good. Many organisms overwinter in that leaf litter, including some butterfly larvae and chrysalises. Leaves break down in your garden beds due to the winter weather, adding valuable organic material. Fall leaves also make great mulch for your lawn. And the leaves provide shelter and warmth for wildflowers and other plants growing below. Make things easy on yourself this fall—leave the leaves alone!
We asked the experts: What plants should gardeners water in winter?