Take These Garden Chores Off Your Late-Summer Lists

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner



As summer draws to a close, there are plenty of important garden chores to complete before winter. But what if I told you that these five garden chores could probably come off your late-summer and early-fall “to-do” list, if you live in colder climates?

Consider these points...and you can thank me later!

1) Pruning: One benefit of pruning is that it stimulates plant growth. That’s why it’s a good idea to stop pruning roses by late-summer in northern climates, so they don’t get a big flush of new growth right in time for the first frost. You also don’t want to prune spring-blooming shrubs and perennials now, because you’ll remove new growth where they will bloom next year.

Also, consider allowing non-invasive perennials to go to seed for the fall and winter. The birds will appreciate these seeds and berries during the colder temperatures, and the stems and branches will provide some winter interest in your garden.

Remember: You can always prune away dead or diseased parts of plants.


Fertilizing Tools


2) Fertilizing: You’ll also want to hold off feeding frost-sensitive plants like roses about six weeks before your first frost date, so you don’t stimulate new growth before the cold temperatures arrive. That’s approximately mid-August to late-August, in some colder regions. You can, however, fertilize late-blooming annuals and perennials once more in late summer, according to Cornell University.

3) Planting:  Early-fall is often a good time to plant trees and perennials, so they can build deep roots before the next growing season. But some plants shouldn’t be planted now, such as magnolias, birches, firs, hemlocks, ginkgos, or ornamental pears. These plants root slowly, so they may not survive the winter in colder regions.

Depending on your climate, however, you can grow a number of cool-season vegetables now. Just be sure to count back from your first frost date when you plant, so you can harvest the food before it gets too cold outside. Otherwise, use cloches and other types of winter protection to have vegetables much longer than you might imagine. Some vegetables like kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts will survive a light frost.

4) Cleaning: It’s true that regular garden maintenance is important, and this time of year is a great time to get a fast-start to your fall garden clean-up. But don’t be in a rush to remove all those brush piles, dead ground cover or logs in your garden. They provide a valuable winter home to such beneficial insects as spiders, lady bugs and native bees.

Fall leaves

5) Tossing Leaves:Don’t throw out those tree leaves either, especially as fall approaches. Instead of sticking leaves in a trash bag for the landfill, gather them up in a pile and allow them to break down over the winter. Or, you can shred the leaves with a lawnmower and rake them into your lawn and garden beds to add valuable organic matter to the soil. That’s what I like to do.

Instead of doing unnecessary garden chores, focus your time on the more important tasks. Most importantly, don’t forget to schedule some fun in your garden now! Winter will be here soon enough.