To many, the arrival of fall signals an end to gardening. But just because summer is over doesn’t mean it’s too late to plant! Now is one of the best times of year to load up your garden with cool-season annuals & veggies, as well as many trees, shrubs, & perennials. You may be surprised what plants can be grown even after the first freeze.

Fall is also a great time to get ahead on those garden maintenence tasks that will help lay the foundation for spring. It may seem strange to think about spring already, but by preparing now, you’ll not only enhance the appearance of your yard for the holidays, you’ll help guarantee a beautiful and bountiful garden for the next growing season.

  • Stock up on new plants

Though spring gets all the garden-center glory, fall is a far beter time to invest in your landscape. New plantings in autumn require less water and fertilizer, and also have that much more time to get established before the withering heat of summer. As air temperatures become cooler than the soil, new top growth slows, allowing plant to focus their energy on root development. Planting several weeks before the first hard frost will provide plants time to recover from transplant shock. Any later and you’ll run the risk of poor root growth.

  • leave some leaves

You don’t have to clean up those fallen leaves just yet. While grass lawns must be kept clear, trees and shrubs on sturdy ground covers benefit from fallen leaves since, over time, they become much-needed compost. Eco-friendly tip: Instead of bagging fallen leaves on your lawn for trash, finely shred them by going over them with your mower. Layer and work the trimmings into beds to enrich the soil below and provide much-needed insulation for winter.

  • Protect perennials

As summer perennials fade away, trimming them back will make for a healthier plant when the growing season resumes. Replenishing mulch in perennial beds can help carry them through the cold weather ahead. If you haven’t brought in your house plants, do so before you turn on your heat to give them time to adjust. Just remember to wash them first to get rid of any hidden pests.

  • Flash some fall color

By the time autumn arrives, sun-parched gardens need an infusion of color. Cool-season flowering annuals and perennials put on their best show in the fall and will often remain vibrant through November or longer. Replace summer’s spent flowers and infuse your garden with fall-hardy violas, snapdragons, pansies, and mums. Ornamental cabbage and kale are other good choices for their pretty foliage.

  • Try some new tasty trees

Fall is the season to plant fruit trees such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, apricots, and figs. Young trees should be staked to prevent roots from being pulled up by fierce fall and winter winds.

  • Plant now and eat sooner

Make room for your fresh crop of fall vegetables by pulling out any varieties that are no longer performing well or those you have already harvested. Replenish your beds with rich soil and compost to provide a good foundation for new plants. You can revive your garden now with quick-growing crops such as arugula, spinach, turnips, and radishes. Other fall veggies such as beets, carrots, green onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale can be planted now and as late as December. These varieties will handle light frost, which actually make them taste sweeter.

  • Love that lawn

Fescue lawns, nearly everyone’s favorite, start growing again as the weather cools so you’ll need to mow more often, water, and maybe fertilize. Fall is a good time to start new fescue lawn from seed or sod, and patch holes or thin spots by seeding or buying new squares of sod. Bermuda grass will begin to brown as winter approaches and will need to be overseeded with annual ryegrass. But with the chance of more hot weather on the horizion, it’s best to wait until November for this job.

  • House those herbs

Dig up those herbs to grow them inside. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot, and let soil dry out before watering. Snip leaves whenever you need herbs in your cooking but don’t strip them completely. For prolific growing herbs, cut them back halfway and dry or feeze the extra, or share with friends. Herb infused sugar scrubs or homemade soaps make for great gifts during the holidays!

  • Brew some sweet cider

If you have apple trees, now’s the time to harvest them for delicious cider brew. A sweet annual tradition for families with young kids!

  • Take stock

Make a list of what worked well in the garden, and what could use fine tuning. Is the focal tree getting too big? Are those plant combinations working together? Thinking ahead to next year’s projects, such as building a new path or adding a new shade tree, can help you create a more effective and enticing garden.