AThe peak gardening season is coming to an end, now it’s time to start the fall cleaning in your yard. While your tomato plants and wildflower beds may be on their way, that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Preparing for the changing seasons is an essential part of gardening.
Fall and winter are the best time to get a head start on “spring cleaning,” says Angelo Randaci, master gardener at Earth’s Ally. Between picking out stray weeds, spreading fresh mulch, and planting perennials before the first frost, work in the fall lays the foundation for blooming flowers in the spring.
“The main benefit of fall cleanup is that it prevents the spread of disease and insect pests from the current season to the next,” Randaci writes on the Earth’s Ally website. “Removing diseased plants, or plants that have no aesthetic interest, is important for the health of next year’s garden.”
Give your flowers, trees and vegetables everything they need to thrive in spring and summer. Below are tips from a master gardener for preparing with fall clearing.
4 autumn tidying tips for your garden and garden
1. Dig out those weeds
That weed that you pretend you haven’t seen all summer? Yes, it’s time to dig those out. The same goes for debris, falling objects, or anything else you don’t want hanging around in the spring.
While aesthetics are an incentive to clean up, Randaci says insects and invasive weeds are an even bigger concern. “Pests and diseases can [survive in] plant debris and make a comeback next year,” he says. “Perennial weeds. like dandelion, ground ivy and white clover, will last all winter, so it’s best to remove them now.”
We know weeding isn’t much fun, but it’s better to do it now than later. A pro tip: weed after a rain shower, when the soil is still damp. The roots come out easier.
2. Clean and store accessories properly!
Houseplants and herbs that can migrate indoors should be brought indoors. Like all garden accessories, such as tomato cages, grids and plant stakes, they also need to be stored – just make sure you clean them well first. This way you prevent diseases or pests from lingering in the coming season.
“Before you put them away, clean the soil and wash them with soapy water,” Randaci says. “Sprayers support diseased plants with isopropyl alcohol, which is 70-100 percent alcohol to kill disease.”
3. Plant your perennials early
Depending on where you live, winter can still be a long way off. In other places, the first frost may have already fallen. Wherever you are, plant perennial bulbs early, preferably before the first frost – Randaci says this will help them take root before it gets too cold in winter.
Keep in mind that many perennials, such as coneflowers and rudbeckias, linger when temperatures drop. “Ornamental grasses last all winter and don’t need pruning until early spring,” says Randaci. “While most perennials don’t need pruning until spring, remove plant debris from peonies, roses, fruit trees or plants showing signs of disease.”
4. Make a compost pile
Didn’t have a compost heap this summer? That’s okay – fall is the perfect time to make one. Especially if you want to give your soil some love and not spend a lot of money on new mulch, which prevents weeds and lowers your water bill, homemade compost can be a great way to give your garden a boost.
Need ideas? Dead leaves, grass clippings, organic food scraps and most yard waste is all fair game. Randaci says you should stay away from invasive weeds or diseased plants you get from your yard — these can end up harming your plants along the pike. Otherwise, safe, organic materials can go straight into your compost bin for a rich, homemade mulch in the spring that your flowers are guaranteed to love.
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