Not sure how to start preparing the garden for winter? Here are 9 ways to garden in the fall to prepare for winter.
(This post was updated in October 2021)
With fall in full swing, the garden is showing signs that it is slowing down for the season.
It’s a bittersweet time for the gardener because, on the one hand, you want it to keep going, but on the other hand, you want a break from the grind.
Some of my perennials are dying back, others have powdery mildew on them, the leaves are changing and falling to the ground.
While the gardens still look pretty good overall, it’s time to start preparing the garden for winter.
The first frost will be here before we know it and there are some plants that need to be lifted or brought indoors before that happens.
Follow these tips to garden in the fall and get your garden ready for the next season.
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9 Ways to Garden in the Fall to Prepare for Winter
Here’s a quick list of ways to garden in the fall and start preparing for winter:
- Bring houseplants indoors before first frost. Re-pot or divide plants that are outgrowing their containers. Check the weather to see if a frost is expected or bring indoors now.
- Lift tender plants, bulbs and tubers. Learn how to overwinter dahlias and other tender perennials HERE.
- Overseed the lawn.
- Cut back any diseased plant foliage but do not compost it.
- Tidy up plants that are falling over. I leave a lot of perennials and their deceased foliage up all winter so the birds can enjoy the seed as well as add winter interest to the gardens.
- Plant spring flowering bulbs (Tulips, Daffodils, etc.). Do not plant too early though – I usually wait until the temps are much cooler – usually in late October and sometimes as late as early November. Learn how to plant bulbs in fall HERE.
- Now is a great time to plant perennials, vines, shrubs or trees. Garden nurseries are selling their stock off at a discount so run, don’t walk to get plants now while supplies last.
- Dig, divide and move perennials around to improve the overall health of the garden as well as to tweak next year’s design.
- Pick up leaves weekly and don’t let them smother plants or accumulate around the base of trees. They make great homes for rodents as well as promote other pests and disease. Instead of tossing leaves, make leaf mold compost with THESE tips.
Since the growing season is coming to a close, let’s stroll the beds and see what’s happening right now.
Front Entry Garden in the Fall
This fall, I tucked in some pansies, celosia, garden mums, and field trip pumpkins to ramp up the autumn vibe in the front walkway garden.
When you plant pansies in the fall, they will overwinter and bounce back in spring.
I love this gardening hack because it saves money in the garden.
As far as cutting plants back for the season, most of this garden will remain intact so the birds can eat the seed from the dried flower heads.
I also leave it intact for the winter to add interest because snow will sit on the dead plants instead of flat ground.
Thus, I will not cut this garden back until spring.
I do need to lift the Dahlias and other tender perennials soon.
They are tender in New Jersey and won’t survive the winter outdoors.
HERE‘s how I will do it.
It has huge holes in the center of the plant, which is the plant’s way of telling me to divide it to keep it happy and healthy.
It’s amazing how different the garden looks in just a few years right?
I love to try different things with my front porch and seasonal annuals and it makes all the difference.
Right now, the garden mums, sedum autumn joy, and foliage colors create such an autumnal vibe.
You guys know how much I love sedum autumn joy because I talk about it all the time.
There are so many types of sedums, but I love sedum autumn joy the most because it is readily available and perfect for beginner gardeners.
Watch this video to learn more about sedum autumn joy.
Sedum Autumn Joy’s color is one of the reasons this plant is one of my favorites and a must-have for anyone wanting a garden that is always in bloom.
The color and texture that this plant adds through the seasons is incredible and it is a low maintenance plant to boot.
But overall the fall garden colors look amazing this season.
I’m really happy with how this garden has progressed through the years.
The Mailbox Garden in the Fall
The mailbox garden was pretty low maintenance this fall.
I tucked in some fall annuals to fill in the gaps.
But overall I left this bed alone and it still looks amazing!
Here’s a look back at the mailbox garden in 2019.
Not too much has changed, except I started gardening more in the bed on the other side of the driveway.
The Well Garden in Autumn
I love this garden now.
It used to just be a mish-mash of plants to hide the well equipment, but it’s been looking better and better every year.
Still one of my favorite ornamental shrubs, callicarpa puts on quite a show in fall with these bright purple berries and yellowing foliage.
How gorgeous are these berries on Callicarpa (Beautyberry)?
I think the birds love them as much as I do.
This garden already has quite a bit going on so I tucked in a few fall flowers to keep the autumn vibe going while the other plants faded out.
Two of my favorites in this garden are my limelight hydrangea and smoketree.
I just love the contrast of the yellowing foliage and flowers of the limelight with the dark foliage of smoketree.
Both accent the fall garden well and I can’t wait to see how they change even more as fall progresses.
Backyard Gardens in the Fall
The backyard gardens are winding down but still look amazing!.
The deck is still getting used, but the houseplants are making their way indoors.
I still have a few houseplants outside that are so big I almost don’t know what to do with them.
But this year, they will overwinter in the basement with grow lights because I just don’t have the room for them on the main floor.
Most of the shrubs in that border have brilliant fall color so it’s just a matter of time before the foliage brightens up the landscape for one last time.
I do not cut much back in these beds either.
Yes, it is a lot to clean up in spring, but I don’t mind.
I prefer to feed the birds and have something interesting to look at during the winter.
The backyard border is not as vibrant as it was a few weeks ago. But the fall color is about to kick in for the final show of the season.
The cottage garden in front of my shed still looks gorgeous.
My dahlias are all still blooming.
Even Cafe Au Lait decided to finally bloom.
Better late than never I guess.
But my sedum autumn joy looks gorgeous back here with the ornamental grass.
And have I mentioned lately how glad I am that we swapped out the old fencing for this picket fence?
That small change this year made such a difference.
The inside of the cut flower garden has been completely cleaned out.
I’ll be adding some compost and leaf mold to it soon.
The vegetable garden had such a productive season this year in my new raised garden beds.
You can hear all about these awesome beds HERE.
How are You Preparing the Garden For Winter?
Have you started closing your garden for the season yet?
Tell me what you are doing in the comments below.
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