Fall has officially arrived with its first killing frost taking away any last remnants of our summer flowers, planters and baskets leaving us all with lots of clean-up and winter preparation work to consider around the farm and in the gardens. Here’s a checklist that will help get you going:
Give all of your plants a good watering, especially your trees. Their roots need plenty of moisture to make it through the upcoming months.
â–¡SHOP FOR BULBS
Order from catalogues or visit your local garden centres early for the best selections. If deer or rabbits are a problem in your area, consider selecting pest-resistant bulbs such as Daffodils, Crown Imperials (fritillaria imperialis), Siberian Squill, Allium, Fritillaria, Grape Hyacinth, Bluebells, Dog-Tooth Violet, Checkered Lily, Glory of the Snow, Winter Aconite or Snowdrop.
â–¡PREPARE YOUR ROSES FOR WINTER
Clear debris and fallen leaves from the base of your roses as they can give diseases a place to over-winter and create problems in your garden next year. Prevent damage caused by freezing cycles by piling soil on the plant base. Check out my blog on â€œHow to Prepare Your Roses for Winterâ€ for detailed information on how to tuck your roses in for the winter.
â–¡PLANT SHRUBS AND EVERGREENS
Early autumn is a great time to plant new shrubs and evergreens in your gardens as it gives enough time for roots to become established before winter. Trees add years of beauty to your landscape and help shade your house keeping it cooler around the summer and attract birds as well. Just follow these simple steps for success.
Find a location that is suitable to the eventual mature size of the tree, which is favourable for its growing conditions and soil preferences and will provide enough sun and shade. Mark a hole about twice as wide as the pot or ball and avoid digging the hole too deeply. Loosen the root balls by spreading the roots. Place tree, fill the hole with the soil you dug from it and resist the urge to fill it with better soil. Water and fertilizer your tree well and cover the soil with a couple of inches of mulch to keep the soil cool and moist as your tree gets established.
â–¡AMEND YOUR SOIL
Get the ground ready for next years’ beds and your fall bulbs by tilling the soil and adding home-made compost, composted manure or 3-way mix.
â–¡PLANT FALL ANNUALS
Extend the fall colours in your yard and garden by planting fall mums, ornamental kales, flowering cabbages and pansies into the empty spaces of your gardens, providing continued beautiful fall colour well after the cooler weather sets in. Once your annual flowers in your planters, urns and baskets have been bitten by frost, you can stick in coniferous greenery, sumac branches, mountain ash berries, mini pumpkins & squash; plant colourful mums or flowering kale/cabbage; add ornamental grass tufts, birch twigs/branches, pine cones, magnolia leaves, grapevine accents; spray-paint (gold or silver) branches or pine cones, add decorative balls and ribbons (the list is endless, really) to carry your planters from a Thanksgiving theme right through until Christmas.
â–¡LOWER THE HEIGHT OF YOUR LAWN MOWER
Grass grows more slowly in the fall, but it still needs to be cut to prepare for winter. A lower cutting height makes leaf-raking a lot easier, inhibits diseases carrying over in thatched and matted areas and helps the soil dry out more quickly in spring,.
â–¡FEED THE BIRDS
Don’t forget your feathered friends; their food supply grows scarce in autumn. Feed wild bird seed mixes, black or striped sunflower seed, peanuts and suet in balls or blocks.
Empty and clean existing feeders of any seed buildups and fill with fresh seed.
â–¡DIVIDE AND CUT BACK PERENNIALS
While you’re digging them up to divide them, try rearranging plants if they haven’t been working in their current location. Hold off dividing asters, chrysanthemums, and other fall-blooming perennials — It’s best to split them in spring.
â–¡DIG SUMMER BULBS
Love the way your favorite summer bulbs performed this year? Save them for a repeat show next year! It’s easy: Dig and store dahlias, cannas, caladiums, callas, and other tender bulbs in peat moss or sand in a cool (around 50 degrees F is best), frost-free spot for the winter.
â–¡RAKE AND MULCH LEAVES
Left unattended, fallen tree leaves may suffocate your lawn. Shred them and they make great mulch.
â–¡GET BULBS IN THE GROUND
Plant your favorite bulbs now for colorful springtime blooms. You can usually get away with planting bulbs late, up until the soil freezes solid enough that you can’t get a shovel in the ground.
â–¡FORCE BULBS INDOORS FOR WINTER COLOUR
Get an early touch of spring by planting bulbs now to bloom indoors in January or February. Bulbs such as narcissus and hyacinth work well if you plant them now and keep them cool until you’re ready to enjoy the blooms.
â–¡FEED YOUR LAWN
Don’t let your lawn go into winter without the nutrients it needs to battle the long sleep.
â–¡BRING TENDER CONTAINER PLANTS INDOORS
Remove dead foliage and break up any hardened soil before hauling your cherished tropical plants (such as mandevilla, hibiscus, gardenias, passionflower, citrus, etc.) indoors for the winter. Keep an eye out for pests, too. Before bringing plants indoors, spray them, if necessary, to keep aphids, mealybugs, or other harmful insects out of your house.
â–¡EMPTY HOSES, FOUNTAINS AND DRIP-IRRIGATION SYSTEMS
Ensure any standing water is removed from your watering equipment; store items in a dry place
â–¡CLEAN UP THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
Remove weeds and debris so pests won’t make your garden their winter home.
â–¡DIG UP ANNUALS
Spent and dead, your summer annuals can now nourish the compost heap.
â–¡PROTECT COLD-SENSITIVE PLANTS
Shrubs, roses, and perennials that might succumb to blasts of cold should be protected with mulch or another protective covering. Place these frost barriers after the first freeze.