Fall is a special time for gardening. There are 8 Fall Garden Tasks to do now to prepare for next spring, plus I’m giving you my fall garden tips for dahlias, peonies and hydrangeas!
Does anyone else feel like fall sneaks up on you? One day we are in shorts and t-shirts basking in the sun and the next minute I am spending long days at the orchard bundled up in jeans and a sweatshirt.
It seems to change overnight. The once green grass is turning to its dull, golden color and our plants are hurrying to seed themselves before the first frost.
Fall is such a special time in the garden, I can’t put my finger on it but it just hits different. It’s a time to grow quick-to-mature veggie plants as well as the time to clean and put the beds to sleep for a winter rest.
Below I’ve listed out some tasks I will be doing in the garden this Fall.
8 Fall Garden Tasks to Do Now
1. Take Notes
During the fall is the best time to take notes on the season. Set aside some time to write down what worked, what didn’t, where you planted things, and what you want to change for next year!
I will be installing some more fencing and moving my plants around a bit to hopefully protect them better from the deer next year.
I know it is easy to think that you will remember all of these small details, but trust me its best to jot them down in a dedicated notebook, note taking is the key to a successful garden next spring.
2. Clean Up
Not the most fun task but possibly the most important — clean up.
You had the most beautiful crop of plants, flowers, and vegetables and now they have all died off and it is time to clean it all up and put the garden to bed.
I find it hard to get started… It just looks like so much work and you don’t know where to begin, so set a date, grab your headphones and listen to your favorite music, podcasts or book while you clean up your beds.
You want to clean up your beds early in the fall because you never know what kind of weather is coming during winter.
Once the job of cleaning your beds is done you officially don’t have to worry about cleaning it up anymore til the beginning of Spring!
3. Plant Hardy Annuals
I know this sounds completely crazy, because we just talked about pulling things out of the ground so they won’t die, so why would we be planting annual seeds now?
Well, there are a handful of really hardy annual seeds that actually thrive when planted right now. You want to get these seeds in the ground not long after the first frost.
These seeds actually love the freeze thaw freeze cycle, so don’t panic, they will not die when it starts freezing outside.
These select few hardy seedlings (such as Queen’s Ann Lace, bells of Ireland, roach, and cerinthe) will start to pop up about 10-14 days after planting. They usually will form a small little green bit of foliage during the winter, but come spring flowers will go crazy!
4. Plant Cool Weather Veggies
I actually wrote a whole post on this, click here for my post on 21 veggies to try in your Fall garden!
5. Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs & GARLIC
One of my favorite things in early spring is watching all the early spring flowers start popping up from their bulbs.
So, now is the time to plant your spring bulbs. By far my favorite fall garden task to do because of the sweet reward.
Check your zone for specific timing for planting, for my zone (6a) I usually get around to this in early November. You just want make sure to do this before the ground freezes so the roots can get established a bit before winter.
Garlic is a bulb you plant in Fall for harvest the following summer. We do soft neck garlic here and it’s the EASIEST crop ever, basically plant them and forget them, I highly recommend trying!
Click here for my post on bulbs, I share tons more of my knowledge!
6. Plant Shrubs and Perennials
Now is one of the best times to plant shrubs and perennials (the other being spring time). I would recommend planting about 6 weeks before the ground freezes and the temperatures get really cold, the plants need time to get their roots established before winter hibernation.
Once planted give them lots of mulch (but do not cover the crown) in order to protect and insulate them for winter and for weed control.
When planting perennials plan to top dress with 2-4 inches of compost and with shrubs 2-4 inches of wood chips.
7. Test & Amend Soil or Sow Cover Crop
Another important garden task is to test the soil. I know it’s annoying, it took me YEARS to actually do it myself, but for real it’s so worth it to know exactly what you’re working with.
In my opinion now is the best time to do it that way the legwork of testing is done and you can amend now or plan to do so in the spring. At this point I amend with 3″ of compost and worm castings per bed but most often wait until spring to lay it down.
Another great way to amend soil is by using a cover crop like Crimson Clover or Barley. It’s easy, cheap and efficient – if you live in a cool climate like me, why not have these crops work for you over the winter?
For real, research cover crops and get your mind blown by how amazing they are for soil!
8. Peony, Dahlia & Hydrangea Fall Care
Peonies, dahlias and hydrangeas are possibly my top three favorite flowers to grow, so I have separate posts on exactly how I grow and care for them (linked below)!
But because they are so popular, here’s a quick summary of what I do for these crops in the fall.
The main fall tasks to do for these flowers are:
- Digging (dahlias)
- Dividing (peonies, dahlias)
- Planting/transplanting (peonies, hydrangeas)
- Deadhading (hydrangeas, dahlias)
- Harvesting (dahlias)
Click below for my more specific guides to these flowers and exactly what to do for them in the fall!
I hope this fall garden task list helps you get your garden all ready for this coming spring! Leave me any questions in the comments below!