Fall Garden Chores

by Suzan Ferreira
Fall Garden chores featured image of sunlight shining through a fall leaf

With the busy growing season coming to an end, completing fall garden chores may be the last thing on our minds. However, by creating a fall garden chore list and sticking to it will have your gardens thanking you come spring.

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Lord knows I’ve been there. Starting in January with ordering the seeds and supplies & planning the upcoming garden season, starting the seedlings come February into March, & planting the spring garden weather depending once the soil can be worked is busy in of itself. Nevermind nurturing that labor of love throughout the season by watering, weeding, & tending it only to morph right into the harvesting, canning, and preserving stage that comes late summer into early fall. It’s enough to cause anyone pause & want a break.

As with most things in life, proper planning & care will set us up for success. Our garden beds are no different. By creating & completing a few fall garden chores not only allows your bed to breath a sigh of relief as it’s put to rest for the winter, but also offers a jump start on your spring gardening & help to prevent poor performance.

“Proper preparation prevents poor performance.”

Stephen Keague

WHEN TO CLEAN UP YOUR GARDEN

As with most things garden related, when to begin the fall cleanup of your garden largely depends on your location, or gardening zone. If you don’t already know your zone, you can easily look up yours below.

By determining your zone, you can then create a comprehensive fall gardening chore list that is personalized & appropriate for your garden.

As frosty weather can arrive anytime come September in my zone, planning and completing the fall gardening chores begins largely during this time period. When to begin your fall cleanup depends not only on your weather (zone) but also with what plantings & gardening features you may have.

Fall Garden Chores pin made for Pinterest showing calendula dead seed heads in garden with flowering calendula in the background blurred

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR FALL GARDEN

So what should be included with your fall gardening checklist? Let’s break it down.

PLANTING IN THE FALL

Fall is a wonderful time to plant in our landscaping, flower, and vegetable beds.

If you know what you are adding to next year’s landscaping and flower beds, now is a great time to plant them. For my zone, that means the end of August & early September.

By planting shrubs, some perrenials, and trees in the fall, you will be able to take advantage of the many sales nurseries offer as they are trying to reduce their stock. It’s also a time to take advantage of the cooler conditions while the soil remains fairly warm. While you’re at it, you may want to take advantage of these sales further by purchasing any soil, amendments, and mulches you may need for the upcoming growing season!

Don’t need to purchase any plants? Be sure to take note of the ones you already have growing and expand the garden by dividing and transplanting those summer flower varieties!

Fall Garden Chores closeup image of deep pink morning glory double flower with brilliant lime green leaves in background

And did I mention no bugs? While your in the garden during the fall months there are typically no bugs to deal with which only adds to the pleasure of fall gardening 🙂

Planting & dividing in the early fall ensures the root systems of these plants will have a good headstart before going into dormancy for the upcoming winter months.

In the vegetable garden, now’s the time to plant garlic for next years harvest. If you are planting a cover crop, and we highly recommend you consider this, now’s the time to plant this as well.

Fall Garden Chores image of hand holding large clove of garlic with blurred vegetable garden in background

My favorite source which I highly recommend for all your cover crop seeds and supplies is True Leaf Market. I find their germination rates to be above average, cost effective, and reliable.

Check out our Microgreens at True Leaf Market

Think ahead to spring blooms! Fall is when you plant most of your flowering bulbs, crocus, tulips, daffodils, and grape hyacinths which all make for a spectacular spring display. It’s also the time to dig up those bulbs, dahlia’s, gladiolas, and any other temperature sensitive bulbs to store for the coming winter.

HARVESTING & PRESERVING THE LAST OF YOUR GARDEN

It’s time to save seed from any vegetables or flowers you are wanting to save for growing in the spring or to sow in another area of your beds you are wanting to expand. Need some organizational suggestions? Be sure to visit my “Organizing & Storing Leftover Garden Seeds”.

Extending much of your harvest with a little frost protection using either hay/mulch & covers or possibly even both is easy to do and will prolong your growing season substantially.

Fall Garden Chores image of spent dill seed head highlighted by light in the garden

Harvest cold hardy root vegetables (carrots, beets, etc) after the first frost, and squash, potatoes and the like before the first frost.

In the herb beds, you can harvest & dry what you will need access to for the winter months. It’s also the time to take cuttings from those plants which will not over-winter such as rosemary. Root them in water & plant indoors to really get a head start on next years herb beds.

When creating your fall garden chore checklist, don’t forget about the cleanup. It’s one job I’ve always found to be a bit tedious, but it’s one that is essential to your ongoing garden health.

FALL GARDEN CLEANUP (VEGETABLE GARDEN)

Pick up any fallen fruit. You know those cherry tomatoes that fall and rot, or the apples that you’ve not yet picked up. Fallen fruit left untended can lead to disease & pest issues. No thank you!

Cut near the soil level any vegetable plants that need removing and compost or discard. Leave the tender roots in the soil to decompose and nourish the soil. Large roots that have not decomposed properly can be discarded if need be during next years planting.

Weed any beds that need weeding. Leaving existing weeds in the soil just creates more of, well, weeding next year 😉

Fall Garden Chores image of hand holding soil that has been amended with compost

Have your soil tested. Determine what it may need. Add a good dose of compost to the soil preparing it for planting in the spring.

Rake, gather, and mulch your leaves to cover, insulate, and compost in the veggie beds.

FALL GARDEN CLEANUP (PERRENIAL, FLOWER & BEDS)

Cut back any flowering perrenials you wish (or leave to self sow as I do with my calendula, dill, and cilantro each year). Deadhead any flowering buds on those plants that don’t require cutting back. Or be like the lazy gardener that I am and leave to self-sow, feed the wildlife during the winter months, and create winter interest in the garden 😉

Fall Garden Chores image of dead calendula flower heads in the midst of blooming calendula flowers

Take pictures or mark in your gardening journal while fresh in your mind of where things are growing, what you would like to see for next years garden, and any changes you have or are planning to make.

Weed any beds that need it.

FALL GARDEN CLEANUP (LANDSCAPE)

Cut the lawn one last time prior to frost. Reseed if needed, & fertilize to feed for the winter months to come.

Rake & gather fallen leaves off lawns and beds. Mulch if so desired to add as insulation on any plants or shrubs that may need it. Optionally, add some mulched leaves to your compost pile for a good dose of brown matter, and leave the rest for harboring beneficials such as ladybugs & native pollinators 🙂

Prepare burlap covers or plank covers for shrubs, greenery, and any trees that are susceptible to wind burn, cold, and even deer & forest animal browsings.

Utilize rose cones or deeply mulch the base of any rose bushes.

FALL GARDEN CLEANUP (HARDSCAPES, FEATURES, & TOOLS)

Don’t neglect any hardscape or features you may have in your garden. Clean, cover, or bring in out of the elements any pots, furniture, statues, & breakable garden art that wouldn’t appreciate being exposed to harsh winter storms.

Wash and store any bird feeders that you are not planning on leaving out for the winter months. Instead, think of some unique diy treats you can make for our woodland friends to enjoy throughout the winter.

Should you be so fortunate to have a water feature, prepare & winterize before a hard frost.

Winterize outdoor water spouts by draining thoroughly & cleaning or wiping them down if necessary. Drain and put away any outdoor hoses.

Winterize the tools of the trade. Sharpen, oil and put away your gardening tools clean and ready for use in the spring. Winterize small engine machinery & implements such as mowers to store safely during falling temperatures.

SHOULD YOU TILL YOUR GARDEN IN THE FALL

Well, full disclosure here, I am a no till gardener. Why? Because it erodes the soil, disrupts the beneficial microbiome of the soil, and is not so friendly to my garden loving worms etc. In addition like I’ve mentioned, I am a lazy gardener and like to let nature take care of itself without my added inputs 😉

As a no till gardener, I can recommend that you turn in any compost or brown matter such as mulched leaves under just the top several inches of soil by simply using a shovel or fork. My favorite amendment to add in the fall? Seaweed! Read more about the wonders of this ocean gift to all gardeners in my article “Using Seaweed In The Garden”.

Is there anything else I don’t recommend doing in the fall? Yup! I don’t recommend pruning your flowering bushes like lilacs and viburnum as you may be removing the flowering buds off of next years growth. How sad would that be?

GARDEN MANAGEMENT PLANNER

My best suggestion for completing your fall garden chores? Journal. Writing down what worked, what didn’t, what you would like to do different or the same during your next growing season may be the best kept secret of gardening success.

I always seem to think, “Oh, I will remember where I planted that” or how many Sungold tomato plants I planted, planning & scheduling garden chores no matter the season, or even remembering what challenges the growing season presented. Trust me. You won’t.

By creating a gardening journal, or what I like to call, my gardening management planner, makes it easy to track, plan, schedule, and refer back to year-to-year. Don’t have time to create, from scratch your own? I’ve done the work for you!

My beautifully crafted printable Garden Management Planner contains all you need! And did I mention how pretty they are?

Garden Management Planner image displaying all 25 beautifully curated pages available to download

With a little time & effort, creating your fall garden chore list and completing those fall garden chores, you can rest assured that your spring gardening efforts will run a bit more smoothly.

Have I missed any fall garden chores?

Love, Light, & Laughter ~

Signature of Suzan from It's My Sustainable Life

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30 comments

Julie Shipman September 4, 2021 - 3:04 am

This is great! I am terrible at cleaning up the Fall garden! And I cannot wait to check out all the other freebies in this give away! Great collaboration!

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Keirsten January 11, 2021 - 10:58 pm

Ooh this will be so helpful for next fall. I finally figured out how to properly cover my boxwoods haha. But the vegetable garden info is great to know.

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Lisa November 11, 2020 - 5:23 pm

Excellent information on what is needed for a fall garden! Sounds like a lot of work, but so worth it in the end!

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April J Harris November 8, 2020 - 6:27 pm

It’s so important to ‘put the garden to bed’ properly, and your tips, ideas and advice make it so much more do-able, Suzan! Thank you for sharing this post and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party Community.

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Susan November 7, 2020 - 4:40 pm

Great read. I’m glad I’m doing things right. I’m not into tilling either and my fall planting is done. I am however waiting to start landscaping in Spring…

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Danielle Ardizzone November 6, 2020 - 2:46 pm

Thank you for this! I’m slowly learning how to care for my yard, and I didn’t know some of this.

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Cindy November 4, 2020 - 3:13 am

Excellent tips! I tidy my garden up a little bit in the fall but leave the ornamental grasses through the winter and some of the dried perennial stalks. Today I enjoyed sitting for an hour in the garden and guess what? No insects, as you said. It was perfect.

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Ayesha Siddiqui November 4, 2020 - 1:20 am

I just closed out our plot in our local community garden. but would love to try some of these techniques, especially the garlic in our patio planters.

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Melissa Jones November 4, 2020 - 12:59 am

What a neat way to think about it!

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Marianne November 3, 2020 - 6:17 am

Great info! Will be tackling the garden a little late this year, but hopefully I have learned a little something!

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Barbara November 3, 2020 - 4:08 am

We blew all the leaves in the yard, planted the bulbs for spring, put the lawn furniture and flower pots away this past weekend. This time of year always makes me sad. Preparing for the harshness of extreme cold winter is here….

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Lori November 3, 2020 - 3:51 am

A great list of the many chores that are needed in the garden for the fall.

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Sabrina DeWalt November 3, 2020 - 1:05 am

This is a great comprehensive list of what to do in the fall.

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Chelsea November 2, 2020 - 10:49 pm

I’ve read a lot lately on no till gardens. Once I start our side yard veggie garden, I plan to do the same as you. In Southern California, we don’t get too cold, but like you mentioned, I start trimming back some of the perennials. I honestly can’t get under or behind them to clean up the ground and inspect my drip lines until I do. 😉

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Justine November 2, 2020 - 8:55 pm

Great information. My husband loves planting new plants every season and expanding our garden!

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Tricia Snow November 2, 2020 - 8:43 pm

I had no idea that I had to pick up the old fruit from the garden Yikes! Great tip!

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Jan November 2, 2020 - 7:21 pm

Good info for me and my black thumb! 😆 I think I’m done with my work this autumn as cold temps are starting soon where I live in Switzerland.

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Debbie Lilly November 2, 2020 - 6:58 pm

Gardening is not for the weary! So much to do, but so enjoyable and rewarding. Thanks for keeping us on task!

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Sydney Delong November 2, 2020 - 6:34 pm

Wonderful tips! I will need to refer back to this next year to prepare my garden for the following spring!

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Holly November 2, 2020 - 6:22 pm

Great tips and advice for taking care of our gardens and getting ready for spring planting.. in Arizona we only have 3 months of non-planting Jan and July and August.. so I do this after each planting season! Thank you for the great reminders!

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Cindy November 2, 2020 - 6:18 pm

What great information. It’s easy to forget about the garden and yard needing tending in the fall.

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Lisa Manderino November 2, 2020 - 5:38 pm

We just did a big clean up! It looks so much better! We made sure to do it on a day that was nice out.

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shelley November 2, 2020 - 5:20 pm

I’ve never been able to grow anything (I can kill an air fern) but it’s something I’d really like to learn. My yard right now looks like a disaster zone. On the other hand, it’s a blank canvas because nothing is growing anywhere.

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Megan November 2, 2020 - 4:28 pm

Haha, yes, no bugs is the BEST part of being near the garden in the fall!

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Magan November 2, 2020 - 3:55 pm

I’m not much of a green thumb, but my husband is, and he’s always working on our yard. He grew up working in his grandparents’ greenhouse, so he enjoys the different nuances of certain flowers/plants. I’ll have to share your no til reasonings with him. 😉 It’s the part he hates most every year!

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Tiffany Smith November 2, 2020 - 3:25 pm

I just finished pulling the last plants from my raised garden bed (sob). Now its time to work to get all the leaves caught up in the base of my lilacs so I don’t get powdery mildew next year…

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April Rode November 2, 2020 - 2:47 pm

So detailed and educational! Before we normally be done but for the past few years it’s hard to do and finish it all before the winter comes. Our tree is still full of leaves and just start to change it’s color and it’s already snowing today.

I love how you mentioned here when to plant and what to do with your specific garden to make it always healthy.

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Alyssa November 2, 2020 - 2:40 pm

Great information! I wish I had some space to garden but living in a townhome within an hoa community definitely doesn’t give me space to do so. I soup’s be worried though because I don’t have much of a green thumb lol!

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Bonnie November 2, 2020 - 2:34 pm

I love the Zone Finder! A good friend of mine has several gardens on her property and it’s a lot of work but beautiful to look at.

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Beth Shields October 28, 2020 - 12:53 pm

Such a wealth of information – I love the “zone” finder. And the work that goes into “putting a garden to bed”. I watch my sister do her garden and it takes a lot of time. I admire you for doing this and find this very interesting. And inserting the products needed is a nice help. Thanks!

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