Doing some clean up in the garden this month will give you a head start on gardening this spring. Here are a few tips for putting your garden to bed.

LAWNS

  • Mow one last time at a height of two inches.
  • Keep watering your lawn until the ground freezes, particularly if we have a dry fall.
  • Clear leaves and debris, and compost everything except diseased matter and Black Walnut tree clippings.
  • Veggies and herbs

    • Cut down and clear out everything, except perennials.
    • Add fresh compost and turn into the soil.
  • Annuals

    • Remove plants from pots and put healthy ones into a compost pile. Discard any that have had a problem with disease or insects.
    • Remove any plant tags from the ground.
    • Fall is the only time to plant spring-blooming bulbs, like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.
  • Perennials

    • Let foliage yellow completely.
    • Divide crowded plants or transplant to a new location.
    • Cut down most perennials to the ground, a couple inches for ones like hardy hibiscus and you may want to leave sedum and grasses up for great winter interest.
    • Pull annual bulbs after the first frost and store for winter or simply discard.
    • Plant hardy bulbs and perennials for Spring color. Be sure to use bulb-tone for bulbs and Bio-tone for all plants when planting.
    • Mulch with cypress, cedar, hardwood or pine bark or cocoa shell to provide soil nutrients through the winter.
    • Maintain soil moisture by continuing to water until the ground freezes.

LANDSCAPE – SHRUBS & TREES

  • It’s best to cut all deadwood before leaves fall, to avoid accidentally cutting down healthy limbs.
  • Plant new shrubs and trees before the ground freezes. Be sure to use Bio-tone and soil conditioner for all plants when planting.
  • Stake anything that is newly planted or not stable.
  • Use tree wrap on trees to protect from winter sun and prevent animal damage.
  • Mulch with cypress, cedar, hardwood or pine bark or cocoa shell to provide soil nutrients through the winter.
  • Maintain soil moisture by continuing to water until the ground freezes, especially any first-year plantings even if they were planted in the spring.

ROSES

  • Fall Care (do not prune any roses until you are sure the bush is dormant); this may be as late as December.

    • Maintain soil moisture by continuing to water until the ground freezes.
    • Remove any diseased foliage from around the plant.
    • Continue to treat for fungus and disease.
    • Stop applying any fertilizer that contains a high amount of nitrogen.
    • Apply Alaska Mor Bloom or a 0-10-10 in mid-October or later.
  • Winter Protection for Roses (should not begin until after two to three hard frosts — about mid to late November)

    • Cut back garden roses to about 8-10inches tall and cover with a rose cone.
    • For climbing roses, thin out all but the 3 or 4 strongest canes but don’t cut those down in height, place a rose collar around the base or crown of the rose and fill with mulch to protect through the winter.
    • For shrub roses, prune to half the height of the bush if you want them to be large or prune down to fit in a rose cone if you want to keep them smaller every year.

SOIL

  • Amend with organics:

    • Clay – mix soil conditioner with existing soil or
    • Sand – add peat, black topsoil, and compost.
  • Cut out new beds and get the soil ready for spring planting. Roto-till, add topsoil and organic matter to create nutrient-rich soil that is ready for Spring.


ODDS and ENDS

  • Start planning Christmas decorating. Decide your holiday theme and color scheme.
  • Determine which trees and focal points you’re going to light for the holidays.
  • Keep a journal of planting success and learning opportunities.
  • Clean ALL garden tools and pots before storing.
  • Continue to fill bird feeders and keep them clean. Food will get harder to find as temperatures drop.
  • Winterize water features by removing pumps and cover to prevent water from collecting.
  • Dream about next year’s garden.
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