Your fall garden checklist: ten tips for gardening in fall

Autumn is a great time to tidy up your yard and garden; and knowing the right things to do in terms of plant and lawn health is key. You will find some useful tips for winter garden preparation here:

Planting new trees and shrubs
In fall, the ground is warm and the plants love it! If you are able to plant in September or early October if the warmth is lingering, do it! The difference in plant growth at the end of next year (2018) for plants installed in fall, 2017 vs spring, 2018 is phenomenal!

Think spring colour now!
Spring just feels SO much better when bright colours emerge from the disappearing snow! September and October are the time to plant spring-blooming bulbs like Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinth, Crocus, Scilla, etc.

To prune or not to prune?
Try to avoid pruning evergreens (Cedars, Junipers, Pines and Spruce) until next year. Most deciduous (leaf-dropping) plants can be safely pruned now, but avoid the early spring blooming shrubs such as Lilac; prune them ONLY right after they finish blooming. Also, avoid pruning Maple and Birch until JUST before they leaf out next spring.

Want to have soft garden soil in spring?
For exposed soil beds that you plant bedding plants (annuals) in each year, now is the time to dig and turn the soil leaving it in rough half-spade sized clumps. Dig to a depth of 8-10” – it is hard work, but totally worth it. These clumps of soil will freeze and thaw a number of times before winter, and will literally “crumble” into a fine loose planting soil that will be so easy to plant in. Just prior to the fall digging, sprinkle a liberal amount of your favorite compost on to the surface. Adding “Clay Buster” now is good idea.

Bringing plants in for winter? Be careful
If you are contemplating bringing any tropicals or herbs that have been growing on your patio this summer, be careful! First of all, these beauties have become so accustomed to bright light, that they will likely defoliate (drop leaves) heavily shortly after being moved indoors – even in the brightest window. Also, even though it is not visibly apparent, they are very likely heavily populated with insects. A heavy dose of insecticidal soap is recommended, but if possible, consider buying new indoor-grown plants for your home in fall.

Divide and share
Now is a good time to divide overgrown perennials and share them with friends, family and neighbours. Daylily, Hosta, Iris love to be divided this time of year. If you want to keep some nice annuals that you fear not being able to find in spring (mainly Cannas and Glads), now is the time to dig up the corms and tubers, let them sun dry for a day or so and then store them in barely damp peat moss in a cool dark spot for winter.

Apply sunscreen
Now is the time to wrap sun-sensitive tree bark with tree wrap. Basically, younger trees that still have not formed a “rough corky” mature bark are subject to winter burn, and you will likely save their lives with a tree wrap.

Evergreens will benefit greatly from a deep root watering in late October. Allowing a slow trickle of water from the hose for about 10 minutes per 3 feet of plant height is a good idea. A good dose of water will help reduce (or even eliminate) winter burn so you can enjoy your evergreens in winter rather than staring at unsightly burlap wrap.

Rose care
Put rose collars around roses. Fill the collars with mulch and/or built up soil to provide extra winter protection to the roots.

Feed the lawn
Ask your garden center which FALL lawn food they recommend. Be sure to buy a little extra to broadcast on to your shrub and perennial beds.


Happy Gardening!


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Guest post by Jan - Bylands Account Representative

I’m very proud of my 4 children.  All 4 of them, worked many summers in the garden centre, they love plants and gardening too – but opted for totally different careers.  Jan loves living in Winnipeg and adds extensive plant knowledge to our team at Bylands.  You can sometimes find Jan as a guest on ‘The Gardener’, a radio program in Winnipeg on Sundays. 

Cover Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash