10 Must-Do’s to Prepare Your Garden For Fall

Get your garden prepped for fall by following these 10 helpful tips.

We here at Drake’s 7 Dees pride ourselves on knowing a thing or two about landscape design, plants, gardening, and everything in between. Read on for some helpful tips on how to prepare your landscape for fall so you’re able to hit the ground running next spring. Your landscape will be the talk of the neighborhood!

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1.Protect the pretty things

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You may not want unnecessary wear on all the pretty things in the garden, so it’s important to protect and/or cover delicate plants, water features, and garden art from freezing temps and possible snow and ice. For those plants that are mobile, move them indoors into your house, a greenhouse, or some other type of protected space you might have.

2. Plant now, pretty flowers later

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There’s nothing like the first flowers of spring. They let us know that the cold and rain is soon coming to an end, and are always so cheerful and colorful!

Daffodils, tulips, irises, camas lilies, alliums, hyacinths, and crocuses are just a few that can be planted in the fall to brighten your spring.

3. Cut back the summer lovers

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Cutting back a lot of the perennials and ornamental grasses will keep your winter and spring garden looking cleaner and your summer garden fuller. Getting rid of all the dead leaves, stems, and blades of grass makes way for the new growth to come in, and keeps the plants looking fresh and bright.

On the other hand, if wildlife is on your mind, leaving your dried grasses and some perennials all winter is a great source of food for birds and other animals. It really just depends on what’s important to you.

4. Weed, weed, weed

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Source: Julie A. Martens DIY Network

And then weed some more. Weeds block out sunlight and steal water, as well as compete with your plants for nutrients in the soil. It’s no secret that weeds seem to grow more aggressively than the plants you deliberately planted, and to increase the likelihood of your carefully selected plants surviving next spring and summer, get those weeds out of there now. Weeding in the fall can be easier since the soil is moist from the inevitable rain, so those puppies should rip right out. Your garden will thank you!

5. Get the soil as rich as Scrooge McDuck

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Credit: Catawba County Soil and Water Conservation

We recommend spreading compost over your garden by late fall. This is a great time to cover the beds with a winter mulch such as chopped leaves and by spring, soil organisms will have worked the compost into the soil. Another option is to spread compost two weeks before planting time in the spring.

6. Rake, rake, rake

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Or not. The downside to having all these beautiful shade trees to make your landscape and house nice a cool in the summer, leaves. A lot of homeowners like to have a nice clean yard all fall and winter, but rather than raking up all those leaves and stuffing them into bags after the appropriate amount of jumping into them, putting them into your compost bin to use in Tip #5, can be a great way to make lemonade out of lemons.

While raking is a popular yet undesired way to spend a weekend (or multiple), there are actually some benefits to not raking up all your leaves in the fall.

  • Habitat for frogs, toads, box turtles, etc.
  • Nutrients for Ecosystems
  • Less Waste with Leaf Bags and Pickup
  • Increase in Soil Fertility
  • Time to enjoy a fall weekend

7. Make the grass greener on your side

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Credit: Deviant Art

Adding in a lime and winter fertilizer rich with potassium is a good way to keep that lawn lush and green. Lime in September, fertilizer in October.

When lime added to soil increases the soil’s pH, making soil less acidic and more alkaline. Even though lime includes calcium and magnesium, which are essential nutrients for healthy plant growth, it’s not a substitute for fertilizer. Potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus, are the essential macro-nutrients required in the largest quantities by plants for growth and vigor.

Fertilizer blends, which are high in potassium, are often sold as a winterizing fertilizer due to the potassium’s effect on the cold hardiness of grass. Choosing the appropriate blend should be based on soil type, soil test results, and other factors including personal preference (organic) or legislation (fertilizer bans). Potassium also occurs naturally in organic fertilizer and compost sources like seaweed products, wood ash, and bedding materials.

Just remember: lime in September, fertilize in October

8. Keep the pipes from freezing

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Even if you have drained the water out of your irrigation system, some water remains and can freeze, expand, and crack PVC piping. Although commonly used drip pipe is more flexible, water left inside can freeze and rupture the pipe walls. Freezing water in the backflow assembly will damage the internal components and can crack the brass body.

To minimize the risk of freeze damage, you’ll need to winterize your irrigation system. Drake’s offers irrigation winterizing and spring start-up when we install a new irrigation system. Give us a call!

9. Don’ forget the veggies

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Pulling out all those annuals that are done shining and cleaning out the veggie beds that have stopped producing is a great way to be ready ahead of time for spring, but also making space for the fall vegetables you might like to grow. Lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, and even garlic are great crops to grow throughout the winter.

Clearing out all those dead/dying plants out of your landscape allows you to look out at a clean landscape all winter, as well as be ready to move when all those spring flowers start popping.

There are benefits to leaving your decaying plants in your landscape just as there are benefits to leaving your leaves on the ground. It all just depends on what your goals are for spring, and what state you’d like your landscape to be in all winter. It all just depends on what your goals are for your landscape and garden. Do what you gotta do!

10. Give your tools some love

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Fall is a great time to repair, sharpen, oil, and clean all your gardening tools. Much like most of the previous tips, getting your tools ready to go this fall will make your spring easier. Nothing to clean up or fix before you can get started when you’d rather just get going on the garden.


Those are our 2 cents on important ways to prepare your garden for the upcoming fall and winter months. Good luck in the upcoming seasons. Happy Gardening!



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