10 ways to get your garden ready for fall
Fall cleanup Conservation Volunteers event, Forks Prairie Garden, Manitoba (Photo by NCC)
Have you felt it yet? That first chill in the air that whispers of the coming of fall? It’s a sure bet autumn is just around the corner, and it's a great time to start planning and preparing your garden for fall, and eventually a Canadian winter.
Here are 10 tips for ensuring your garden’s ready for fall and the cooler temperatures:
- Plant your spring bulbs, including tulips and daffodils. Ideally, this should be done by mid-October for best results, and before the ground begins to freeze.
- Trim back perennials that have gone dormant (once the leaves and stems have turned yellow or brown). If the plant still has green leafy growth late in the fall, it’s best to leave it until spring to see if it needs to be cut back. Also, some plants produce seedheads that are attractive to overwintering birds and these can be left standing until early spring, at which time they can be pruned back.
- Get rid of any diseased foliage from infected plants. If left alone or composted they can harbour a new outbreak next year.
- Divide dormant perennials that have become too large or numerous. These can be shared with friends or planted in other areas of the garden. Make sure new plants are well mulched to minimize frost heave.
- Fall is a great time to plant, so continue adding to your garden. In early fall the ground is still warm and many plants are still actively growing roots.
- Water needle-leaved conifers (like pines, firs, spruces and cedars) and broad-leaved evergreens (such as rhododendrons) well into the fall. This ensures that they will be well hydrated before the ground freezes.
- If possible, leave the leaves on your lawn. Pollinators and other wildlife will use them for shelter over the winter. If you do rake them, put them in your gardens where they can help to enrich the soil and provide habitat. Where walnut trees occur, do not add their leaves to the garden or compost, as they contain a chemical that can kill or diminish the growth of many plants (including a number of vegetable plants).
- Stake young and newly planted trees. Fall can produce some blustery weather in most parts of Canada and staking will help prevent damage from high winds or heavy wet snow, which can occur later in the season.
- Mulch garden beds to retain moisture and to protect your plants from rapid fluctuations in temperature. Fall is a good time to spread compost over the vegetable garden so that it is ready to be dug in come spring.
- Don’t forget to fill up the birdfeeder. Fall is migration time and you never know what feathered visitor may stop by!