University of Illinois Extension


Sharon Yiesla, Unit Educator, Horticulture, Lake County

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Fall Garden Wrap-Up

Fall is coming and it will soon be time to put the garden to ‘bed’ for the winter. Here are some things that should be done to get the garden ready for the dormant season.

1. Bring in house plants that have summered outdoors.

  • Bring them in when night temperatures consistently fall into the lower 50's.
  • Try to avoid abrupt changes in light or temperature.
  • Check for insects prior to bringing the plants inside.
  • Re-pot if plant has outgrown its container.
  • Plants that have grown vigorously outside may need some pruning.

2. Clean up vegetable gardens and annual flower beds.

  • Harvest all usable vegetables and annual flowers.
  • Leftover debris can be tilled into soil or placed into the compost pile.
  • Clean up weeds as they can harbor diseases and insect.
  • Add compost and other organic material to enrich the soil.
  • Mulch beds to prevent erosion during winter.

3. Clean up perennial flower beds.

  • Remove weeds that may harbor diseases and insects.
  • After we have a couple of frosts, mulch the perennial bed.
  • Plants can be cut back now or in early spring.
  • New perennials can be planted in fall; established perennials can be divided; September is the best time for this.

4. Tree and shrub maintenance

  • Prune trees after they go dormant (lose their leaves) or in early spring.
  • Prune late summer and fall flowering shrubs after they go dormant.
  • DO NOT prune spring flowering shrubs in fall (they already have their flower buds).
  • Trees and shrubs can be fertilized after they go dormant (October) or in spring.
  • Continue regular watering as long as ground is not frozen.

5. Lawn care

  • Fertilizing in September promotes early green up in spring.
  • Lawns can be dethatched or core aerified in early September if needed.
  • Late August and early September are good times to establish or renovate a lawn.

6. Miscellaneous

  • Plant spring flowering bulbs in early fall (mid-September to mid-October).
  • Clean garden tools so they will be ready for next season.
  • See to proper storage of seeds, fertilizer and garden chemicals.
  • Drain and store garden hoses.
  • Consider composting as a method to deal with garden debris and autumn leaves.

August/September 2004: Pet Waste and Water Quality | Diseases and Insects of Shrubs and Small Trees | Fall Garde Wrap-Up | Managing Thatch in Home Lawns


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