Late Summer into early fall in the PNW is a magical time in the garden, full of change, promise, and a chance to get a jump start on next year’s plants. It’s a shift in the mindset and preparing to settle into a season of rest, contemplation, and dreams. Before the holiday season sets sail, consider the tasks you can get done now, before the rain and cold sets in.
I love the seasonality of garden tasks, I find comfort in the routine of helping my plants stay healthy and looking beautiful, so I’m busy cleaning up beds, rows and putting perennials in the ground. Simply put, this is the best time of year to do some important tasks which will reap you blessings in the spring and summer, with a little bit of preparation and elbow grease now.
Here is my Fall Garden List:
- Take a look around, and see which trees, shrubs, and plants have dead, diseased, or dying branches or parts. These should always be removed, no matter what time of the year. This prevents further damage and disease entry points into your plants.
- Mark, which of your in-ground perennials are ready for dividing. Place a stake or bamboo stick, the ones you will be digging up this winter, and plan where your garden bounty will be planted!
- Start cutting back perennials, as they need it. Once the plant is done photosynthesizing or is hit by frost, it is a great time to cut back stems and canes. Be cautious, so you don’t cut or injure new growth, which will be above ground in many perennials.
- Prune rose canes back to avoid wind damage. Take a look to make sure there are no tangled or rubbing branches, and remove the perpetrator if there are.
- Plant trees, shrubs, and perennials NOW! This is the best time of year to get them in the ground, to give them a winter season to get established. This allows them to go dormant during a natural time so that the roots will take hold and have a healthy below soil system for the spring and summer.
- Plant bulbs: Tulips, alliums, daffodils, fritillaria, mascara, garlic, and shallots
- Mulch, to protect tender plants and cover bare soil patches from getting pounded by rain and causing soil impaction issues. This also helps with excess weed growth. Mulch can be leaves, straw, compost, pine needles, or bark. Anything that protects the soil and provides habitat to the beneficial insects that need a home for the winter is a great garden strategy. This also helps build up organic soil matter in your gardens. Win Win-Win!
- Dig dahlias after the hard frost knocks them back. Store them for the winter so that you will have them in good condition to replant next spring.
- Pull Weeds Now! Don’t let those baby weeds take root over the winter and become monsters you have to deal with in the spring. Weeds like clover, dandelion, and creeping buttercup are abundant this time of year and will take over as the seed has set and is now starting to germinate. Know what they look like as babes, and yank them out.
These tasks will keep you busy and have you looking forward to a garden that will awaken with beauty in the spring – so exciting to have this to look forward to every year.