Is Anyone Else Confused About What To Do In The Garden In The Fall?

In the first week of October, I must have gotten 5 e-newsletters in my inbox telling me what I must or mustn’t do in the garden right now. It was enough to want to make me run fleeing into my cozy den with a book and to never come out again!

Really, is all this necessary? There are some things you must do in the fall to ensure a healthy garden in the spring, like cleaning up diseases and perennial weeds.

And there are other things you may want to do in the fall–like planting spring-flowering bulbs–to ensure a more beautiful garden in the spring.

And there are those things that it is optimal to do in the fall like re-seeding or over-seeding the lawn if you maintain one.

Other than that–nada, nothing, nyet (and that’s about the extent of my fancy foreign words).

After some basic garden sanitation–removing diseases from the vegetable garden in the form of plant matter and diseased leaves, and removing any and all diseased leaves from where ever they occur in the rest of the garden, that’s about it.

You will surely make your life easier if you remove perennial weeds now–and any annual weeds that are going to seed. But is it mandatory–no. You’ll just be weeding more next year and perhaps in succeeding years.

Planting bulbs is lovely and I have done so in many, many fall seasons. But over the last few years, I have developed arthritis in my hands, and working in my heavy clay soil in cool weather is hard for me. So I no longer do it. No point in making life unpleasant.

And as for the lawn, thankfully that is the Spoiler’s job. I advise, and he ignores. It’s a lovely partnership.

With respect to fall planting, I don’t–again, my heavy wet clay soil is no good for that, even before the arthritis.

As for cutting perennials down, I will cut down those that are yellowing, if I have time, if they are unsightly, if the weather doesn’t stop me from doing it–you get the idea.

And of course I’ve already hauled in all the houseplants.

I just have to take in anything that might freeze–ceramic bird baths and statuary and things like that. Although I must say, as I get older, fewer and fewer of those things even make it out of the garage in the spring.

This is known as “gardening smarter, not harder.”

After all, in the spring, when we’re all sick to death of winter and our homes and we’re read all the stuff we want to read, there will be plenty of time to clean up what we left behind in the garden!

4 thoughts on “Is Anyone Else Confused About What To Do In The Garden In The Fall?

  1. pbmgarden October 11, 2013 / 10:31 am

    Great garden philosophy. I always wish I’d planted more bulbs but besides that I find spring cleanup manageable. It’s when I’d rather be outside.

  2. gardendaze October 11, 2013 / 10:54 am

    You know, I’ve never found this “scour everything to the bare earth” fall clean-up the least bit understandable. Over the winter, at least where I am, all sorts of things come down into the garden again anyway so you wind up doing another “mini-clean-up” at least in the spring.

    An of course we can have very harsh winters so why not leave the leaves in place to protect the beds? I’ll even mulch right over them in the spring if I’m mulching.

    And as we both agree, spring is when we’re raring to go. It’s no extra effort to do some cleaning up if I’m pruning or whatever then.

    Thanks for reading and sharing!


  3. bridget October 11, 2013 / 5:45 pm

    I like to leave things until Spring that way the birds can feed on the seeds heads over the Winter…and a few may fall to the earth and create new free plants.

  4. gardendaze October 12, 2013 / 2:33 pm

    Yes, excellent points. I’ve always been an avid bird feeder but my town has the distinction of having the greatest number of bears in my part of the state.

    With winter weather being so unreliable some years I’ve had to completely give up using bird feeders–but I do grow lots of plants that provide seeds for birds so I still do have many birds in my yard, thankfully.

    Most of those same plants will self-sow as well–and then I can just remove any unwanted seedlings in the spring–and share if friends or neighbors are interested.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.


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