Now that the leaves are starting to fall and the frost is covering the plants, it is time to start thinking about cleaning up your gardens for the winter. Fall is a great time to cut down herbaceous perennials in the garden, especially if there was any sign of pests or disease on the plant tissues. Fungal spores and insect eggs can overwinter on plant material and in the soil during the cold winter months. It is
best to dispose of the infected materials by burning or by taking them away from your yard. You can also leave perennial pants standing if they provide interest in the winter landscape. Ornamental grasses, coneflower, black-eyed susan, and sedum are great perennials to leave standing for appeal, and they provide food and habitat for birds and wildlife. All of these plants flower in fall, so they are great for pollinators as well.
After you have cleaned out your garden beds for fall, you may want to consider putting down a fresh layer of mulch to prepare for the flush of growth in spring. If you had any issues in your gardens or your lawn with annual weeds, fall is a great time to spread pre-emergent herbicide granules to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Pre-emergent can be applied in fall and in spring to give you head start on keeping weeds down.
Fall is a great time to get the last of your plantings in the ground. You can successfully plant up until the ground starts to freeze. Even though plants may be going dormant, you can still get the roots to establish during cooler temperatures. So, if there is an area that needs some plant additions, don’t be afraid to add perennials, shrubs or bulbs to your gardens this fall. If you are looking for spring color in
your gardens, try planting bulbs this fall to create a colorful show in spring. Fall is a great time to get into the garden!