TIDY TO A POINT
To start, remove dying plants and weeds to keep the soil healthy, recommends Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, which provides high-tech solutions to the lawn industry.
Before you pull out the shears, consider that pruning may stimulate plant growth, which you don’t want in the fall, she says. Wait until the plant has naturally lost its leaves and gone dormant.
And don’t prune plants that flower in early spring, such as forsythia or azaleas. “You will be cutting off flowers that have already formed on the plant,” Ballato explains.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT
While moving about your yard, look for pests that can decimate trees and shrubs. Telltale signs include sap dripping off the tree (known as “raining tree"), black mold, and dead branches in the upper canopy, says Kathy Glassey of Monster Tree Service.
No doubt your garden—and yard—are covered in leaves at a certain point. This is an organic matter that the soil craves, according to Glassey. “They provide nourishment for microbes and the vast ecosystem in the soil,” she says.
After applying a thick layer of leaves over the soil, rototill the area if you wish.
TO FERTILIZE OR NOT TO FERTILIZE
There are two schools of thought regarding fertilizing, which replaces lost nutrients. Some say it prepares plants for the growing season to come. But Ballato says it can stimulate growth, which you don’t want in the fall.
Even in cold weather, plants can get thirsty. Mulch helps lock in moisture around trees and shrubs—but only if you do it correctly. For instance, mulch should not touch the tree trunk or exceed a depth greater than 2 to 3 inches, Glassey says.
Porch gardeners and homeowners with multiple beds often move indoor plants outside in warm weather. Before moving them inside, apply insecticide. “You don’t want any hitchhikers,” Ballato says.
Cleanliness also applies when it comes to tools. Disinfect items such as tomato cages and cucumber trellises before storing, Ballato says.
PLANT FOR TODAY
Between early and late fall, you can still savor bursts of color from mums, ornamental kale, pansies, and grasses. Buy plants with unopened buds to prolong your enjoyment.
AND PLANT FOR TOMORROW
Like spring, fall is a perfect time to plant, Glassey says. Bulbs are a popular option. Plant bulbs with fragrant flowers, such as daffodils and hyacinths, near your front door to savor the scent.
Now sit back, grab a pumpkin latte, and relax until spring.