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9 Must-Do Fall Garden Chores

Looking for ways to improve your garden for next year? Here are 9 must-do garden chores that should be done before winter arrives to prepare for the next growing season.

Fall is a great time to get out in the garden, wrap things up for the current season while looking ahead to the next year.

And with the end of the gardening season in sight, there are a few things to do before putting away the garden tools and hunkering down for winter.

While some fall garden tasks can be put off until spring.

There are some that have to be done in autumn.

Here’s what you need to know.

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What Gardening Should Be Done in Fall?

Before we deep dive into what I’m doing things fall, here’s a quick list of must-do fall garden chores before the ground freezes.

  • Plant spring flowering bulbs.
  • Dig up tender bulbs and tubers.
  • Transplant, dig and divide perennials.
  • Remove fallen leaves from the gardens.
  • Mulch fall leaves and make leaf mold as well as compost.
  • Store garden hoses, terra cotta pots and other garden decor that can get damaged by extreme winter conditions.
  • Clean and care for garden tools.
  • Plant trees, shrubs and perennials for next year.

When Should I Start My Fall Garden Clean-Up?

It’s a good idea to wait to begin fall garden clean-up until after a few good frosts when annuals are completely done.

While it’s a good idea to remove leaves and debris from the beds, I prefer to leave perennial seed heads up during the winter from plants like Joe Pye, Sedum Autumn Joy, etc. to provide ongoing winter interest as well as feed the birds.

Fall Garden Clean-Up

What Should I Do at the End of My Garden Season?

At the end of the garden season, it’s a good idea to harvest any vegetables that are left.

You can cut back perennials or leave them until spring.

I remove annuals with the exception of pansies because they overwinter and will bounce back in spring.

And it’s also a great time to add compost to the beds.

Fall Garden Clean-Up

Is Fall Clean-Up Necessary?

The short answer is yes.

Because removal of debris in both your lawn and garden will improve the health of both as well as prevent pest and disease problems.

Not to mention, leaving leaves on the lawn will smother the grass and looks unsightly.

So short of it is, remove leaves and debris from your lawn and garden in the fall.

What I’m Doing in the Fall Garden Now

With the end of the garden season in sight, I am tweaking my borders to improve their design.

New Jersey has had the perfect gardening weather over the last week, so working outside has been ideal.

I took advantage of mother nature’s gift and visited the nursery a few times to pick up shrubs and trees.

And guess what?

I scored THE BEST deals!

Fall Gardening Tip: I’ve mentioned it before and will say it again: mid-late October is the best time to find deals on plants and flowers. Nurseries mark down their stock by 40% and sometimes 50% to move it before winter.

While you are fall gardening this year and planning any kind of a garden run, don’t walk, to get to the nurseries now before their stock is completely gone.

But My Favorite Fall Garden Chore?

My favorite fall garden task is to shop for plants!

Like I just mentioned, you can purchase plants for a song and fall is the best time to plant anyway.


Because plant roots establish easier from fall through winter to spring, than they do from spring through summer to fall.

Shopping in Fall for Garden Plants

In last week’s garden tour blog, I said that I wanted to plant a Limelight Hydrangea and possibly Sky Pencil Juniper Sky Pencil.

While visiting my favorite nursery, I grabbed the last Limelight Hydrangea.

I did not see any Sky Pencil Junipers, but found Green Columnar Juniper instead. It’s a little larger than Sky Pencil but will fill the space better.

And, would you believe I got these at about 50% off?

It was such a great deal!

Planting Next Year's Garden in Fall

When I arrived home from the nursery with my new plant babies, I immediately placed them in the well garden to see how they’d look.


The garden looks so much better. Since I got such a good deal, I decided to go back the next day to buy more Junipers and smaller shrubs for the backyard border.

Shrub Garden Ideas
I love how Limelight Hydrangea and Green Columnar Juniper look in this garden!

If you follow me on Instagram and watch my stories, you’ve heard me talk about the hole in the backyard border.

Something was once there but died a few years ago and I haven’t done much to fix it.

That hole really bothered me for too long.

So this year, so I am addressing it because these deals are too good to pass up!

And the Green Columnar Juniper is perfect for this spot because it grows about 5×15′, will add year-round interest, and is a much-needed focal point in the border.

Green Columnar Juniper
The Juniper is small now but it will start to fill in over the next few years.

Looking at this border, I want to grab two more Junipers.

One for that hole and another for the end section of the border that I have not planted yet.

While there were a few Green Columnar Junipers left, only one looked really healthy, so I grabbed a different variety of Juniper instead that has a similar growing habit.

Fall gardening tip: When you are purchasing plants in the fall, check them for signs of pests and disease. We don’t want to bring any problems home to spread an overwinter in the beds.

And of course, while walking around I picked up some small flowering shrubs with amazing fall color to tuck at the end of the back border too.

In addition to Emerald Feather Juniper, I picked up Snowball Spirea and Bluebeard Caryopteris.

Why I Love Fall in My Gardening Zone 6a, New Jersey Garden

The fall color in New Jersey is peaking this week and is just gorgeous!

I just love this time of year.

Since everything looks so beautiful right now, let’s check out the beds and I’ll show you where I planted my finds.

Front Yard Cottage Garden

The cottage garden that wraps around the front walkway looks so good right now!

My gourds are doing well on the front porch without disturbance from squirrels or my dogs.

And everything is looking beautiful for fall.

I love how the scattered leaves look in the garden right now.

But they will need to be raked out when fall gardening season comes to a close.

Front Porch Decor Ideas

The front porch Mums are just starting to bloom.

I’ve been watering them daily to ensure they do not dry out.

Fall Garden Ideas
Fall Garden Ideas
I love how the Arbor Vitaes and Dwarf Alberta Spruces in the urns add interest to this border.
Fall Porch Decor Ideas

I am so happy that my pumpkin decor is still intact.

There is no squirrel or dog damage this year so I will definitely get these again next year!

Fall Garden Ideas

Look at how gorgeous the yellowing leaves of Balloon Flower brighten the garden.

We don’t always need blooms for color.

Foliage offers a similar impact on borders.

Fall Flower Garden Ideas

When I look back at my previous garden tour blogs, it is amazing how well Sedum Autumn Joy does throughout the garden season.

How beautiful is this color?

Well Garden

The well garden looks SO much better with the hydrangea and juniper.

I can’t wait to see how it all comes together next year!

Fall Flowering Shrub Garden Ideas

The well garden may move into first place in my heart next year.

I love how much the Limelight Hydrangea and Green Columnar Juniper changed the vibe!

Shrub Garden Ideas

My Callicarpa looks amazing paired with Limelight Hydrangea.

I love this fall garden shrub combination.

Fall Flower Shrub Garden Ideas
I cannot wait to see this garden come in over the next few years.

Mailbox Garden

While the fall gardening season is ending, the mailbox garden is thriving!

I am really happy with yellow marigolds in this garden and will be sure to tuck them in next year.

I love that they look good in both spring AND fall.

Planning ahead a season when purchasing annuals is another great way to save money in the garden.

The Mailbox garden is still going.

We have not had a good frost yet so the annuals are still doing their thing!

Backyard Gardens

The fall foliage color is spectacular in the backyard gardens.

The borders look amazing while the trees, shrubs, and perennials start to change their color.

Don’t you love those bright autumnal hues?

Fall Garden Ideas

The backyard border looks so rustic right now with the perennials dying back and the leaves changing.

The fall color looks amazing!

My Endless Summer Hydrangea is still blooming!

I need to wrap it soon to protect it from harsh winter elements.

Last winter damaged the buds.

Shade Garden in Fall
I love the foliage combination of Hostas, Leucothoe and Hellebores.

The burning bush in this border turns a darker shade of red every day!

By next week, it will be crimson.

View of the Berry, Vegetable, and Shed Gardens.

I love how the backyard looks in the fall with the woods behind our property.

There used to be a lot more trees, but Superstorm Sandy took out several.

This is a view from my deck of the berry and shed gardens.

View of the berry garden from the other side.
View of my back yard from the Fire Pit Garden.

While I don’t love the shed color, I love how it looks right now with all the fall color and blooms!

Looking at this photo, I want to move the Joe Pye Weed to the right of the vegetable garden entrance.

It is too tall for that spot so it is getting moved later this week.

Fall color is one of the reasons I love the change of seasons.

I would love to live in a climate where it is warm year-round, but I would truly miss this.

Don’t you just love all that fall color?

I am so happy I added those new shrubs and trees to the beds and can’t wait to see how they look next year!

In the next week or so, I’m going to tuck more bulbs in the beds for some early spring color.

9 ways to start preparing the garden for winter

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If you missed a few tours or want to see how the garden has progressed during the growing season, you can see them all here:

9 ways to prepare the garden for winter

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