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5 Quick Ways to Prepare for Fall Gardening Season

With autumn on the way, it’s time to prepare for the fall gardening season. Here are 5 ways to help your garden transition from summer to fall.

As the summer heat drones on, my garden plants have seen better days.

Perennials are fading and toppling over.

Some are overgrown and spilling onto the walkway.

And since it has cooled down enough to do some small tasks in the gardens, I’m ready to get back at it!

Here are 5 easy ways to prepare for the fall gardening season.

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5 Quick Ways to Prepare for the Fall Gardening Season

While we are still in the throws of summer, it’s still a little hot to get out there and spend several hours in the garden.

So here and there when the mornings are cool, I get outdoors and do a few quick garden chores to prepare the garden for fall.

Going through these garden tasks not only neaten things up, but also inspires me to start thinking about where I want to add fall garden flowers.

front porch and small cottage garden of 1850 farmhouse with hardy hibiscus and sunflowers
Hardy hibiscus and sunflowers in full bloom

Deadheading and Cutting Back Perennials

I started deadheading spent flowers and cutting back overgrown perennials.

While still flowering, the Echinacea, is fading to a soft, beigey-pink and falling over on top of other plants.

My hosta flowers are wrapping up their blooms.

So I cut some of those back and kept the ones that still look pretty good and offer nectar to the pollinators.

close up of echinacea and pink yarrow
Coneflowers

At this point, my Catmint is so overgrown that I sheared it back about halfway to uncover the front walkway and garden border.

I’m hoping to get another set of blooms before the growing season winds down.

I also cut back some Daylilly foliage that looked really unkempt. It drives me nuts when it browns out and starts to look untidy.

Now that it’s cut back, there is room to plant more fall color where I don’t have room.

There are a few other plants I started cleaning up and cutting back to neaten up the gardens’ appearance, but overall, the work is pretty light.

close up of coneflowers that are fading at the end of summer -Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Compared to a few weeks ago, the Echinacea is still blooming but fading.

Last Feed for the Roses Before Fall Gardening Begins

My roses will get fed one more time before the season ends.

One feeding lasts about six weeks, so that should keep them blooming through October.

It is important to stop feeding them after this last one because we want to encourage them to go dormant in preparation for winter.

close up of roses in the pool garden by a green garden fence in my early summer garden tour
Roses

Weeding

The weeds continue to grow and get pulled. It is a lot of work to manage all the beds, but I do what I can when I can.

Truth be told, I enjoy sitting out there in the fresh air, listening to some good tunes, and pulling weeds.

It’s very peaceful and I don’t mind doing it when the temps are not in excess of 80 degrees.

It’s been so hot lately though here, I’ve let it go a little bit.

new cottage garden with green picket fence with sunflowers, snapdragons, superwave petunias and coneflowers
New Cottage Garden

Look for Inspiration for Fall Plants and Flowers

Now that fall is approaching, I will start visiting the garden nursery to see what’s out and pick up some fall color.

It is also a great time to start thinking about adding new perennials, shrubs, and/or trees to the gardens.

Fall is a great time to plant and nurseries start selling their stock off at a discount in October.

One thing I want to mention…while garden mums are available for sale right now, it is still too early to plant them.

Whiskey barrell planted with plants for fall garden such as garden mums and pansies with a pumpkin
Fall garden in a whiskey barrel

They do not like hot and humid temps.

So although it has cooled down a little bit, it will get hot again before it officially cools down for fall. 

I know stores have them out now but RESIST THE TEMPTATION and wait a few more weeks.

They will be much easier to care for and will look better for longer.

close up of pansies, gourds, pumpkins and garden mums -9 Simple Fall Porch Decor Ideas
Fall vignette on the porch

Avoid Purchasing Garden Mums Before Fall Gardening Begins

I’m going to say this now before you all see them at the nurseries, farm stands and markets.

DO NOT BUY YOUR GARDEN MUMS TOO EARLY.

And too early is August and early September.

For a multitude of reasons, resist the urge to buy them when you see them come out, particularly if it is still really hot where you live and garden.

Garden mums are not bred to last long and don’t do well in the heat, so it’s not worth purchasing them before you really need them.

My front yard cottage garden in 2019 - Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Front yard garden

Come Tour My 2019 Gardens

In 2019, I shared a weekly garden tour of the beds. Wait until you see how different they looked! I love to look back and see how much my garden style has changed.


While we walk around the gardens this week, I’ll talk about some of the changes I made to prepare for fall gardening.

The gardens look so good after cleaning them up!

I spent some time deadheading and cutting plants back and they look so much better.

Close up of sedum autum joy as it starts to bloom -Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Sedum Autumn Joy as it begins to bloom

Front Yard Cottage Garden

I probably spent the most time in this bed because there was a lot of work to do.

While the Echinacea is still flowering, it was falling over and crowding some of the other plants.

Sedum autumn and rudbekia flowers up close -Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Sedum Autumn Joy and Rudbeckia

I could have propped them up with a stake but opted to cut them back instead.

There are a few that are showing signs of putting out more blooms, so I cut those back a little to encourage the flowers.

Overall, I love how this garden looks and can’t wait to tuck in some fall color!

Mailbox Garden

The mailbox garden got a little facelift this week.

We replaced the old white mailbox that was falling apart with this pretty oil rubbed bronze one. It looks so much better!

I cut the Daylillies back that flank the Sedum.

The foliage was not looking good anymore and I wanted to make some room for some fall plants.

As an aside, I’m really happy that I chose to plant yellow Marigolds, Purple Petunias and Euphorbia annuals in the gardens this year because they were a really fun plant combination.

They not only added spring color but are doing double duty with fall color as well!

Mailbox garden with perennials and annuals -Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Mailbox garden
sedum autumn joy in front of mailbox-Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Sedum Autumn Joy with mailbox
mailbox garden with petunias and other annuals and perennials -Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Mailbox garden in late summer looks a little tired
close up of petunias - Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Petunias in the mailbox garden

Well Garden

The shining star of the well garden is Caryopteris.

In case you are not familiar, it is a very pretty late summer blue-flowering shrub.

The bees love it and I love how it looks next to the Zebra Grass and Smoketree.

small garden in the front yard
Small garden in the front yard
close up of callicarpa aka beautyberry
Callicarpa aka Beautyberry

Callicarpa is growing its berries after flowering.

I love the soft arching branches of this shrub.

And the foliage is starting to change to a chartreuse color too.

Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
How pretty is Caryopteris? I love those blue blooms!

Side Yard Garden

The woodland garden on the side of my house is looking better than it ever has.

This used to be the last garden I would get to work in.

But now that my kids are getting older, I have a little more time to spend in my gardens again.

There are a lot less weeds now!

Oak Leaf Hydrangea’s foliage is starting to turn orange, Cranesbill is getting a yellowish hue, Sumac brightens up the back of the border with its chartreuse foliage and Joe Pye Weed is still doing its thing!

I love how this garden coordinates with the backyard border.

It looks so pretty!

close up of joe pye weed -Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Close up of Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye is flanked by Cranesbill and Sumac is just behind it (this is not the poisonous or invasive Sumac).

Notice the foliage on Cranesbill is starting to change from green to chartreuse with some yellow and red tones.

Although it is no longer blooming, the change in foliage color will add fall color to this border.

Oak Leaf Hydrangea as the foliage begins to turn for fall
Oak Leaf Hydrangea

As much as I love Hydrangea blooms, I grow Oak Leaf Hydrangea for the fall foliage color.

Eventually, these leaves will turn crimson red.

Backyard Gardens

The backyard gardens look incredible right now.

It’s amazing how much these borders have changed over the last few weeks!

I don’t usually show this view, but my berry garden is to the right and the shed and fire pit garden are in the background.

backyard garden
Backyard garden

Backyard Border

The backyard border looks so amazing right now!

I love how the Ornamental Grasses grew their fronds, Joe Pye is still flowering, and the Plume Poppies look like a tall ornamental grass.

That plant does not disappoint!

Shade garden in backyard border with hellebores, hostas and joe pye weed -- Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Shade garden in backyard border

This might be my favorite view of the backyard border.

I’m also happy to report that my Endless Summer Hydrangea is officially blooming!

It has one gorgeous flower head on it now, but there are several others waiting in the wings…yay!

Joe pye weed, wine and roses weigela and plume poppy
Joe pye weed, wine and roses weigela and plume poppy

This is Joe Pye, Dark Horse Wiegela, and Plume Poppies.

Dark Horse Wiegela’s foliage has been turning to this chartreuse color.

Isn’t it so pretty?

Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings

I also love the tricolor foliage on this Leucothoe.

It adds a lot of texture and interest to the shadier part of my garden.

Hostas
Hostas

In the backyard garden, there is a shady section that holds several varieties of hostas.

I love to play around with foliage color to brighten up shady areas.

And I know some are not fans of their flowers, but the pollinators love them so I let them bloom all summer long.

Butterfly Bush close up
Butterfly bush flowers

I just planted this Butterfly Bush a few months ago and it is still blooming.

I used to have more, but they were destroyed during Super Storm Sandy a few years ago and I just never replanted until now.

The butterfly bush is one of my favorite plants that attract butterflies.

It is not unheard of to see 10-15 butterflies on one plant when it is in full bloom.

The Endless Summer Hydrangea finally got her bloom on.

Remember when I was telling you how she was struggling to bloom this year?

Endless summer hydrangea with one blue flower -Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Endless summer hydrangea that struggled to bloom this year

Deck Gardens and Outdoor Living Spaces

The deck gardens are still looking lush and beautiful.

My resident groundhog stopped by a few times but hasn’t done too much damage to the containers since we have been home from vacation.

It always amazes me how much damage it can do in a short amount of time!

Outdoor living space on the deck with plants and lfowers
I love this view!!!

My houseplants are super happy outside!

There has been a lot of growth since they started summering outdoors.  

They look really good and add life to the deck without spending money on more annuals!

Christmas cactus and other Houseplants
Christmas cactus, spider plant, and dumbcane

This corner of my deck is housing Dumb Cane, Christmas Cactus, and Spider Plant.

I bring my houseplants outside where they get fresh air, light, and water.

Much like people, they enjoy a good summer vacation outside too.

Spider Plant on the deck
spider plant

My Christmas Cactus blooms a few times a year.

It is probably my favorite houseplant.

I love when it blooms, particularly when it is indoors.

Plus it is SO easy to care for.

Coleus
Coleus

I love this coleus!

Isn’t it so pretty?

That foliage is really something.

I wasn’t sure how it would vibe with fall, but the vibrant pink is starting to mute like some of my other plants.

Double Flowering Impatiens
Double flowering impatiens

I plant double-flowering impatiens every year because I love the blooms.

But they do make a mess when they drop.

So keep that in mind if you decide to care for them on your deck or patio.

Hibiscus flowers
hibiscus flowers

My Hibiscus Standard is still blooming but even these blooms are not as vibrant as they once were in July.

I grow these yearly as an annual.

If I had a greenhouse, I’d overwinter them indoors.

But I just don’t have the room in my house with all my other houseplants.

Shade Container Idea with caladiums
Caladiums

Fire Pit Garden

I am so glad we added this fire pit area in spring.

We use it often and it looks so amazing!

This corner used to house a bunch of wood debris so this is a welcome change from what it used to look like!

To see the before and after of the fire pit area, click here.

fire pit in the backyard garden
Fire pit in the backyard garden

It’s a great spot to hang with the family.

We enjoy sitting out here roasting marshmallows.

And listening to good tunes of course.

view of backyard garden from fire pit with swingset -Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Backyard garden view from firepit

Lots of cozy nights are spent here in front of the fire!

Now that my kids are older we are considering removing the playset.

But it’s hard to part with it.

Maybe next year we’ll get around to taking it down.

Sedum Autumn Joy and double flowering impatiens by the fire pit
I love how the Double Flowering Impatiens in the back compliments the emerging Sedum blooms.

Speaking of those double flowering impatiens, I love how the blooms compliment the emerging Sedum autumn joy flowers.

Isn’t that a pretty combination?

I love when a good plant combination happens that I didn’t plan.

Double flowering impatiens with ornamental grass in backyard garden -Preparing the Flower Garden For Fall Plantings
Double flowering impatiens with ornamental grass in backyard garden

What Do You Think?

How is your garden doing this year?

When I look back at this garden, it is amazing how much it changed over the years.

To see what it looked like before I moved, you can see the 2021 recap of how my garden grew here.

And if you want to see what my new gardens look like now, you can check out this post where we tour my early summer garden.

Backyard garden view with shed and vegetable garden
View of backyard garden from the deck

Follow My 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 2019 growing season, you can see them here:

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Happy planting – enjoy your day! xo

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10 Comments

  1. Do you cut your bee balm down in early fall? Mine still is blooming, but, some have that mildew look that I’m not fond of.

    1. Hey Laura! I generally cut mine back once it’s done flowering because it usually gets that powdery mildew too. If the flowers are pretty done and its starting to get that mildew, I’d cut it back to neaten up the appearance.

  2. I can’t believe that we are talking about fall gardening already. The summer is going by so fast.

    It has been such a hot summer here, that gardening has been rough. I to had to cut down all of my daylillies.

    Happy gardening, my friend. Your garden is gorgeous.

    1. It’s been so hot and dry here too – not normal for NJ that’s for sure. I can’t believe we are talking about fall either – my daughter goes back to college next week!

  3. I have enjoyed your yard and gardens so much because mine is not pretty. We have been under water restrictions this year and had a dry winter last year. I have lost some of my plants but can’t replace them until we have some good moisture. I live in the middle of the Oklahoma Panhandle and we are usually drier than the rest of Oklahoma. When we do have good moisture I have a really nice yard and flowers. The 2 years before this we had beautiful springs and my flowers were amazing. Thank You for your beautiful gardens and indoor plants. I am an Oklahoma Master Gardener but age is starting to limit what I can do.

    1. Oh I am so sorry to hear about the drought! It’s been a tough year here in NJ too – some of my plants aren’t doing well from it either but we aren’t under water restriction here so I’m able to keep them hydrated. We NEED the rain! I hope you guys get some good wet weather soon to hopefully bring it all back.

  4. It all still looks very good, even in the heat of summer! Not sure what part of the country you are in, down here in Texas my plants are really struggling. I’m not even asking them to perform, just survive for now. While on vacation last week the person that was supposed to water for me, didn’t. My hydrangeas may be lost, not sure yet. And not sure if I should just trim them back, or trim off the dead flowers and leaves. I’m slowly trying to trim up and clean up everything and see how things come back. A yard full of zoysia sod is really struggling as well. Praying, watering, praying some more. We’ll see. You are a great inspiration!

    1. Hey Lynne! What kind of hydrangeas are they? Can you tent them to give them some shade to cool them off? Check the soil to make sure it’s not waterlogged and where are they planted? (full sun, part sun, shade?) It’s been SO HOT here too lately too but I’m sure not like Texas – some of my plants are struggling as well.