It’s hard to believe that the end of Daylight Savings Time is already here. It seems like just yesterday that we were springing forward. Now it’s dark by the time I get home from work, so my time is really limited in the garden. Fortunately there isn’t much on my to do list other than a few final tasks before winter.
- If you live in a cold climate that is sure to get bitter winter storms, don’t wait until one is predicted to protect your evergreens. Take the time to complete this task now. Your trees may need to be shielded from more than just wind and snow: Use burlap to cover evergreens located near a road that will get salt sprayed.
- Wait to apply winter mulch until the ground is frozen.
- Keep the mulch away from tree trunks and plant crowns to prevent rodents from damaging them.
- Aerate existing lawns to improve root development and drainage. This can be done with a garden fork. Simply push the fork into the lawn and wiggle it gently. Repeat the process every 4 inches or so. You can also purchase manual aerating tools or rent a power aerator.
- Unless you live in a really cold climate, fall is a great time to prune evergreen hedges because they are more visible once the rest of the garden goes dormant. Shear them on a slight bevel so that the bottom sticks out a little further than the top.
- Cut back asparagus fronds after they turn brown from a hard freeze.
- Fall is a great time for planting trees, but some varieties prefer a spring planting. Conifers, Japanese maples, dogwoods, sweetgums, oaks, crabapples, and birches should be planted or transplanted in the spring.
- Detach watering hoses from outdoor spigots. Drain them, roll them up and store in a dry location. If your outdoor water is on a separate system from your indoor pipes, shut it off and then turn the faucet on until all the water runs out. Place an insulating foam cover over the spigot to keep ice from cracking the metal.
- Cover strawberries with a straw mulch. Wait to mulch your beds until after the first hard freeze, when the soil is frozen to a depth of about 1/2 inch.
- In areas of the country where winters are mild, sow sweet peas. The variety ‘Winter’s Elegance’ blooms well during the short days and reduced light of the season.
- Remove saucers from under terra cotta containers on surfaces where they won’t leave a stain. This will help keep the pots dry. Dry pots are less likely to crack and the soil will hold less moisture. Soggy soil in winter can lead to root rot. Keep in mind that plants don’t need as much water during this time.
- Plant Oriental and Asiatic lily bulbs in late fall for showy blooms next spring. If the ground is already frozen in your area, pot the bulbs up in containers; store them in locations where they will stay cool, dry and won’t freeze; and then plant the bulbs next spring. Lily bulbs never really go dormant so be gentle in handling them.
- Cut back on water and stop feeding houseplants. As the days become shorter your plants shift from an active growth cycle so they take up less moisture and don’t require additional nutrients.
- Make sure your greenhouse heaters are in working order. In many parts of the country a simple electrical oscillating space heater will do the trick, but if your daytime temperatures fall below freezing you may want to look into something more powerful.
- As long as the ground is not frozen, you can still plant daffodil bulbs.
- Are you getting a live Christmas tree this year? Dig the hole now, before the ground freezes. Keep the garden soil you removed from the hole in an area where it won’t freeze or wash away.
- Make sure your climbing roses are tied securely to their supports to prevent wind damage this winter. Read more about protecting roses in winter
Good to Know
I garden in zone 7b. Spring usually starts in March and fall extends through November. The summers are long and hot. I write these tips with the idea that they are applicable to all zones during a general period of time. However, given microclimates and weather extremes timing can vary. Observe the conditions in your garden and apply them accordingly.