Changing leaves signal that the growing season is winding down. Here's what you should do to prep every area of your landscape for the colder months.

By Megan Hughes
Updated August 07, 2020
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Finish the gardening season strong by checking all of your autumn chores off the list. Your to-do list before the snow arrives should cover all the areas of your yard, including how to best care for your lawn and ideas for putting your veggie garden to bed for the winter. A little work now will lay the foundation for an action-packed spring that's filled with planting vegetables and colorful blooms instead of bogged down with clean-up tasks and tracking down garden tools. Knock off a couple of chores a day and you’ll be ready for winter in short order; then you can spend your time browsing seed catalogs while you dream up next year's garden plans.

removing crabgrass
Credit: Jacob Fox

Prep the Perennial Garden

Perennials are garden workhorses. After a long growing season, they're ready for a winter rest. Stop deadheading in early fall and leave the above-ground parts standing even after frost kills them. They'll provide both food and shelter for wildlife. Songbirds will enjoy the seed buffet and many pollinators like native bees overwinter in standing stems and brush. Here are some tasks to complete in your perennial garden in fall:

Checklist
  • Fall Perennial Garden Checklist

moving fall leaves with red rake
Credit: Jay Wilde

Get Your Lawn Ready for Winter

As the weather cools off, autumn lawn care is a combination of clean-up and encouraging new growth. It's also a good time to help your grass recover from being trampled during your backyard games of catch or maybe bocce ball this summer. Pave the way for lush, healthy grass next spring with these timely chores.

Checklist
  • Fall Lawn Care Checklist

row of swiss chard plants in veggie garden
Credit: Karla Conrad

Prepare Your Vegetable Garden for Next Year

Whether you have an elaborate victory garden or a small patch for raising edible plants, things will start to slow down in fall as you harvest the last of your tasty bounty. Once a few frosts finally bring the growing season to an end, check off these vegetable garden chores to get ready for next season’s harvest.

Checklist
  • Fall Vegetable Garden Checklist

watering evergreen tree at base with sprayer hose
Credit: Jay Wilde

Care for Trees and Shrubs

Did you know fall is an excellent time for planting trees and shrubs? This is when you should start that new hedge or establish a new shade tree in your yard because the soil is still warm enough for roots to grow a little before winter sets in. Plus, you can provide your other trees and shrubs with a little extra TLC to help them weather the colder months better.

Checklist
  • Fall Tree and Shrub Care Checklist

tool shed
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Organize Your Tools and Gardening Gear

As the growing season winds down, don't forget to prep your garden tools for winter. Cleaned and refreshed, your favorite garden helpers will be ready when you are come spring.

Checklist
  • Fall Garden Tool Care Checklist

multiple grey containers with vegetables on deck
Credit: Marty Baldwin

Clean Up Annuals and Containers

Colorful annuals are often the first plants to succumb to frosty fall weather. Once a hard frost does them in, you'll want to tidy up planting beds and pots to be ready to fill again next spring.

Checklist
  • Fall Annuals and Container Garden Checklist

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