10 Things To Not Do In Your Garden This Fall
We typically like to stay a bit more positive than telling you what not to do, but you know, sometimes we like to shake things up a little bit. Hey, some of you learn in different ways (that’s our story and we’re sticking to it). So, along with our lineup of amazing “what to do” in the fall, it’s our job to tell you what not to do.
Use this list as a starting point, and always remember that what/when to plant will be different according to your gardening location.
The Not-To-Do List
- Nothing. You didn’t really expect to coast through the fall without doing anything, did you? Yes, we get that it was a long summer. Actually, it’s been a long couple of years, if we’re honest. But not doing anything in your fall garden will only lead to misery next year. And lots of regret.
- Planting trees and shrubs too late. These larger plants (and actually perennials as well) need those winter months to establish their roots, so get them in the ground at the appointed time. Now, “the appointed time” is going to differ depending upon where you live, so be sure to consult your local experts and plant accordingly.
- Not getting your fall bulbs planted. This should have really been #1 on our list, because we’re Easy to Grow BULBS, but we don’t like hogging all the attention. But we love bulbs, are passionate about bulbs, and feel that every garden needs bulbs. Get them in the ground before it’s too cold (you mild winter people are lucky—you’ve got lots of time left), and then pat yourself on the back for setting up your spring garden to be fab.
- Not cleaning up the garden. There’s nothing much worse than an untidy garden, except letting that untidy garden sail into the cold months. You don’t really want to look at 4–5 months of a mess out there, do you? Only to have to clean it up next spring, which will make the task much more tedious. So here’s the deal—remove anything dead or diseased, compost anything not diseased, give the lawn a final mow, store your containers, and get any other debris out of there. Now, don’t you feel better?
- Not topping off your mulch. In gardening, we want to mirror Mother Nature as much as possible, so when she has trees dropping their leaves in the fall, that’s when you should top off your mulch. Think of the leaves as Nature’s mulch, and that’s your go-to guidance. Make sure there’s about 3” of mulch, avoiding heaping it up on tree trunks, branches, foliage, or the base of any plant growth.
- Watering insufficiently. While some plants are going to bed for their long winter’s nap, others are being planted. They all need water to either start getting established or to have a final drink before bedtime. Set them all up for success by watering adequately—and remember, watering deeply but less often is preferable to sprinkling water around every day.
- Not amending your soil. The secret to a healthy garden is healthy soil. You can buy the best bulbs (we’re blushing) and top-dollar perennials and edibles, but if your soil is bad, your garden simply won’t flourish. Know what kind of soil you have (your county extension office can help you out there) and what nutrients are lacking, then add in your soil amendments to perk things up. And repeat after us: Soil amendment is a long-view game; it’s not a “one and done” kind of thing. Get on a schedule and stick to it.
- Storing tools without cleaning them up. Yuck. Who wants to start spring gardening with dirty tools, tools in disrepair, and broken tools? Tools are dirty? Clean them. Tools broken? Fix or discard. Don’t need that tool anymore? Donate it. Blade not sharp? Sharpen it. Think of it this way: Do you put dirty utensils in the drawer in your kitchen?
- Giving up on weeds. Do not let weeds go to town and gain the upper hand, friends. This is a slippery slope, one you don’t want to slide down. It’s much easier to get those weeds out now, rather than let them go to seed and multiply in next year’s garden.
- Pruning spring-flowering shrubs. Shrubs and trees are the backbone to any garden and show off your flowering bulbs and perennials to perfection. And most shrubs that flower in the spring should not be pruned in the fall–you’ll be cutting off the growth that leads to blooming. Instead, plan to prune them after they are done blooming in the spring. You’re welcome.
Bonus Tip: If we had 11 items on our list, this would’ve been it. But 10 is a good, round number so we’re calling this a “bonus tip.” Do not ignore your average first frost date, people. This date will tell you when to plant things in your area—so enter your zip code here (“enter your zip code here”), know your date, and let it be your mantra.
Okay, now we’re really done. We mean it. Don’t stick around for #12. Get out in that garden and get ‘er done!
- Jenny Peterson