Fall Garden Prep Checklist: Get Ready for Cold Weather

The cold weather is settling in, but that doesn’t mean your job in the garden is done.  In fact, now is the time to start preparing your garden for the winter. Here’s what you’ll want to do to get your garden ready for the cold months ahead:

What to do in September:

  1. Assess your garden: how did your hard work from last year turn out? Make sure you check for diseased and damaged plant. Don’t compost diseased parts of plants, trash them!


  2. Collect seeds and herbs:  if you want to replant your favourites, now is the time to start collecting seeds. You can also dry herbs for teas and cooking.


  3. Start composting: if you don’t have a composter, now is the time to get one! This will help enrich your soil for next year.


  4. Plant new trees, shrubs and spring flowering bulbs: these little guys need at least 6 weeks  to establish themselves before the first frost hits.


  5. Cover water features with netting: Everyone has to clean leaves up in the fall, draping these in netting can help make the clean-up considerably easier.


  6. Bring in clay pots:  if you have terra cotta pots, make sure to bring them inside so they don’t crack in the cold.


  7. Clean bird feeders and tools:  this will help prevent the spread of disease.


  8. Pull weeds: In the fall these pests start to seed, if you pull them beforehand it can help reduce the number next year.


  9. Move houseplants for indoors:  cold weather won’t do for houseplants that need the heat. It’s time to start bringing them in, but make sure you check them for pests before you do!


  10. Fertilize the lawn:  one last feeding before the winter will help grass recover come spring.


What to do in October:

  1. Clean the leaves: rake and compost any fallen leaves (gather up those nets if you’ve set them out!).

  2. Clean up garden debris: You want to make sure you remove all fallen fruit and vegetable plants, compost anything you can (but nothing that’s been ravished by a disease).

  3. Keep grass trim: You don’t want small rodents and pests to create cold-weather nests so keep grass short. Pay particular attention to around the trees and the corner of your home.

  4. Remove dead annuals and plants: After the first frost you’ll probably find a few of your plants didn’t make it, it’s best to remove them right away.

  5. Dig up tender bulbs: Dahlia, canna, gladiola, and other tender bulbs need to be stored in a cool, dark space over winter. Dig them up (carefully) and wrap them in moist material before storing them.

  6. Mulch trees, shrubs and roses: Add an 8 to 10 cm layer of clean straw, shredded bark or wood chips to protect your plants from freezing.

  7. Maintain your tools: sharpen your lawn mower blade, pruners and anything else you use to maintain your lawn and landscaping.

What to do in November:

  1. Fertilize: your lawn deserves on last hurrah (in the form of fertilizer) to help it get through the winter.

  2. Turn off the outside water: Make sure you disconnect and drain all your hoses, sprinklers and irrigation systems before it starts to freeze.

  3. Wrap fruit tree trunks: this helps prevent pests from damaging them.

  4. Continue watering: make sure your trees and shrubs continue to get moisture up until the ground actually freezes.

  5. Frame and tarp outdoor compost piles:  if you don’t want your compost to freeze, make sure you put a frame around it and tarp it.

  6. Check eaves troughs and downspouts:  ensure that these are clear of leaves and debris so melting snow and ice can flow freely.

  7. Divide spring and summer blooming plants: now is the time to separate perennials so they have room to grow next spring.

Is your garden ready for the cold?

Make sure you take advantage of these last weeks of warm weather by doing some final preparations that will help your garden thrive come spring. Happy gardening!

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There’s more to caring for your home than taking out the trash. We give you seasonal reminders about things like when to change your air filter, check and seal your driveway, turn off your hoses, and anything else that needs adjusting through the seasons. We even give you step-by-step instructions on how to get these things done.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.

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