Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Garden Maintenance Tips-It's that time Again!

Are you getting your garden ready in Fall for the Winter months?  Here are some helpful tips that will ensure the vitality and health of your plants.

Skip Laurel
Anti-Desiccant Spray: When the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees (around mid- November here in zone 7) it is time to apply an anti-desiccant spray to your broadleaved evergreens such as holly, rhododendron, cherry laurel, skip laurel, mountain laurel, Japanese skimmia, leucothoe, aucuba and boxwood. These plants can be subject to severe winter burn due to water loss from the leaves by transpiration. Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours. (This tip applies to areas going into their winter season-temperatures dropping below freezing: 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.) If there is a prolonged thaw in mid-winter it may be time to re-apply anti-desiccant spray to your broadleaved evergreens, especially if there are more prolonged freezing temperatures on the way. For more detailed information go to: Winterizing-Evergreens-Anti-Desiccant-Spray

Watering During Fall Winter: A common question often asked is, "Is it better to keep watering my plants until the ground freezes or should I stop watering now?" It is important that prior to winter that there is significant moisture around your plants.   Evergreens do not lose their leaves so they continue to transpire or lose water over the winter months and once the ground freezes it is difficult for water to percolate down to the roots.  A well watered tree will over winter far better than a thirsty one and will not be as susceptible to winter frost damage and drying. Continue to water until the ground freezes.

Heuchera (Coral Bells) 'Caramel'
Mulching & Frost Heaving: In freezing temperatures soil around your plants may be subject to frost heaving. This is when ice forms underneath the soil and expands upwards from the ground causing plants such as perennials to push upwards exposing the crown. Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Liriope are especially prone to this type of damage. As a preventive measure apply a protective mulch finishing to your garden beds in Fall. To remedy frost heaving, slightly tap the soil back down and brush the mulch back around the exposed crown of the plant to protect it.

Weeding:  Do some Fall weeding and garden maintenance now to prevent weeds from getting out of control in the spring.  Dispose of weeds that may have seeds on them in the garbage and not in the compost.  Put a clean edge on your garden beds to prevent grass from invading and remove any decaying debris to prevent fungal infection.

Clean up your Perennial Garden:  Remove any expired foliage and stalks that could decay over winter.  Cut perennials four to five inches above the ground and apply a thin layer of mulch.    Some perennials such as ornamental grasses should be left to cut down until late winter-early spring.  For more info visit Fall Garden Maintenance:  Pruning & Dividing Ornamental Grasses and Perennials.

Knock Out Rose
Pruning Trees & Shrubs:  Early summer blooming trees and shrubs form their buds immediately after flowering subsides so pruning them too late may remove next year's blooms.  These shrubs should be pruned immediately after flowering.  Late summer flowering trees and shrubs benefit from pruning in fall while they are dormant.  Do not prune roses such as Knock Out Rose in fall.  Pruning encourages new growth that may not harden off in time for winter. For more information and a list of pruning times follow the link above.

Bulbs:  Plant spring blooming bulbs such as crocus, hyacinth and daffodils now in the fall before the ground freezes.

Lawn Maintenance:  Clean up leaves from your lawn or mulch them.  Spray to control broadleaved weeds and apply a lawn fertilizer in late fall to encourage a healthier and greener lawn in spring. Cut your lawn a final time before winter. 

A little Fall garden maintenance now will save you time in spring and give your garden a good and healthy start. On that note...out to the garden!

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2012. All rights reserved


  1. These are excellent tips, Lee. I have never used an anti-desiccant spray, but follow all your other advice. This year, I have some areas around the pond where there are some very persistent weeds. I will cover them with black plastic and hope they don't reappear in spring. I've been away, so there's lots to do out there ... I'd better get busy! P. x

  2. A very informative post with the essentials of winterizing your garden. Thank you for the important information on winterizing with anti-desiccant as well. A severe winter is in the forecast and I have had damage to my broadleaf evergreens in the past.

  3. Thanks for sharing nice idea of maintained and I think its a perfect time for spring bulbs!.


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!


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