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Follow This Fall Garden Checklist to Get Your Yard Ready for Winter

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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 July 29, 2021

As temperatures begin cooling off and daylight hours dwindle, it's time to finish the gardening season strong by preparing all your plants for winter. Essential autumn chores on your to-do list should include giving permanent plantings such as trees, shrubs, and perennials a little TLC, cleaning up your veggie garden, and winterizing your lawn. A little work now means you'll have more time in spring for planting vegetables and colorful blooms rather than being bogged down with clean-up tasks and tracking down garden tools. Check off a couple of tasks 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.

Getting 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.

  • Fall Lawn Care Checklist



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 (unless pests and diseases are an issue). 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. Complete the following tasks in your perennial garden in fall:

  • Fall Perennial Garden Checklist


Refresh Your Vegetable Garden for Next Year

Whether you have an elaborate kitchen 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.

  • Fall Vegetable Garden Checklist


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, a little fall care for your established trees and shrubs will help them weather the colder months better.

  • Fall Tree and Shrub Care Checklist


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.

  • Fall Garden Tool Care Checklist


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.

  • Fall Annuals and Container Garden Checklist


orticulturist and writer — Better Homes and Gardens

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