Certain garden tasks are required every fall. Dead plant material must be cleared away; soil must be prepared for winter temperatures; and in temperate climates such as in WISCONSIN, it may be appropriate to lay in new plantings. As you review the following checklist of fall landscaping projects, you might be surprised to see how gardening can help with the maintenance of other parts of your home, such as fence materials.
1. Harvest root vegetables, cabbages, sprouts and gourds. Bring in mature vegetables before the first hard frost slickens your decking materials. Wisconsin usually sees its first fall frost in mid-October. Bring in your last gourds in the weeks leading up to Halloween; they will keep for quite a long time in a cool, well-ventilated space. Autumn is the time to strip the garden of its last harvest.
2. Prune trees and shrubs. Roses should be cut back hard in the fall. Prune any tree branches that are liable to break in winter storms at this time, as well. Be especially vigilant about branches that overhang over your cedar fence materials. If these branches fell down during a tempest, they could seriously damage your fence materials. Those with green thumbs should also deadhead rhododendrons, fuchsias and other flowering shrubs in the fall.
3. Remove leaves and other plant debris. To promote air circulation and overall growth, rake your lawn of all leaves and debris. Cedar fence materials should also be cleared of debris. Otherwise, mold and mildew are liable to grow, which is damaging to fence panels. Similarly, leaves and other compost fodder should be cleared off of decking materials. Residents must be especially vigilant about clearing off decks and fences when there's a break in the weather. Otherwise, fungus and mold could grow on your decking or fencing. Maintain a gap between cedar fence materials and nearby fauna as well. Finally, clear out any dead plant materials from beds that you hope to plant in the spring.
4. Plant bulbs. Beautify your fence materials: accent them with cheery tulips, daffodils and other flowers. Autumn is the season for planting new bulbs. Bulbs also look lovely beside decking materials. Numerous garden centers offering bulbs stay open during the fall. Find flowers that will brighten your mood as the winter rains lessen.
5. Plant winter crops. Some vegetables can grow throughout the year in the Northwest. For instance, if you're looking for wintertime visual appeal on your decking materials, the weather will allow you to grow pots containing spinach, kale and garlic. Collards, carrots, radishes and leeks are other cool-weather crops that can be planted in the fall.
6. Mulch. Mulch protects garden beds by adding a layer of insulation to shelter soil against winter temperatures. It also discourages weeds and makes it much easier to pull out weeds that do appear. Finally, mulch adds valuable nutrients to the soil. Chop up dried grass, leaves and other yard debris for your mulch, or purchase some from a nursery.
Finally, as fall turns into winter, you'll want to spend a little time maintaining your yard tools and planning next spring's garden.