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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 fall 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.

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.

Wearing long sleeves, jeans, boots and gloves while working in the garden doing 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 with the Ryobi Leaf Vac

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.

But make sure you save those leaves to make leaf mold.

Fall garden in the front yard - 9 ways to prepare the garden for winter

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.

close up of copper tub found thrifting with fall garden plants -How to Plant a Fall Garden in a Flea Market Find

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.

Shade garden with hostas and hellebores -9 ways to prepare the garden for winter

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!

Shopping at the garden nursery in fall to Plant 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.

Limelight hydrangea in fall with flowers 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.

fall plantings in the backyard garden
In addition to Emerald Feather Juniper, I picked up Snowball Spirea and Bluebeard Caryopteris.

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

This post was originally written during 2019 when I shared a weekly garden tour of the beds. It’s amazing how much the gardens changes since before I moved!

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 Porch Decor Ideas for fall with cornstalks, fairtytale pumpkins and garden mums

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.

front yard fall garden ideas with bed that needs a leaf clean up in suburban home

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.

The front porch garden mums are just starting to bloom.

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

Front entry fall garden ideas with sedum autumn joy and garden mums
I love how the Arbor Vitaes and Dwarf Alberta Spruces in the urns add interest to this border.
Front porch in fall with container garden display of dwarf alberata spruce with kale, garden mums and fairytale pumpkins

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!

front entry garden in fall with fall garden flowers
close up of front porch with black door and outdoor diy fall decor with autumm garden flowers

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.

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?

Close up of sedum autum joy

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!

close up of 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!

limelight hydrangea with callicarpa in the fall gardenShrub Garden Ideas

My Callicarpa looks amazing paired with Limelight Hydrangea.

I love this fall garden shrub combination.

Fall Flower Shrub Garden I with limelight hydrangea, callicarpa and juniper with smoke treedeas
I cannot wait to see this garden come in over the next few years.
smoketree, beautyberry, limelight hydrangea and juniper

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.

fall garden planted around the mailbox with sedum autumn joy

The Mailbox garden is still going.

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

fall garden planted around mailbox with sedum autumn joy, pumpkins and marigolds

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?

shade garden in fall with hostas that are dying back

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

The fall color looks amazing!

backyard border in fall of suburban NJ garden

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 with stinking hellebore, hostas, and leucothoe
I love the foliage combination of Hostas, Leucothoe and Hellebores.
backyard garden in fall

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

By next week, it will be crimson.

backyard garden nj in fall
View of the Berry, Vegetable, and Shed Gardens.
backyard garden with garden shed in fall

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.

backyard garden view with playset in fall
View of the berry garden from the other side.
view of backyard garden from firepit
View of my back yard from the Fire Pit Garden.
backyard garden by garden shed with fall plantings that include sedum autumn joy and ornamental grass

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.

garden shed in fall with autumn garden flowers like sedum autumn joy, ornamental grass and fall foliage

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.

fall mailbox garden - 9 ways to start preparing the garden for winter

Follow the Weekly Garden Tour

I hope you enjoyed this week’s garden tour and appreciate you joining me!

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:

Close up of oak leaf hydrangea leaves in fall - 9 ways to prepare the garden for winter
Close up of Oak Leaf Hydrangea leaves as it changes in fall

Looking for More Flower Garden Ideas?

If you love flowers and want to grow more in your garden, here are some posts that will get you on your way.

From tucking in flowering plants that are deer-resistant or ones that attract more butterflies and hummingbirds, to shade-loving flowers like the lenten rose, these posts will get you on your way to growing a garden that will bring joy for years to come.

Here are more cut flower and cottage garden growing tips, tricks, and design inspiration.

view of the front porch cottage garden with sugar pumpkins, sedum autumn joy, rudbeckia, celosia and snapdragons

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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

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What You Need to Know About Fall Gardening
What You Need to Know About Fall Gardening

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