Tending to The Fall Garden

HendersonvilleTaking care of business in your garden will prepare for next Spring. You’ll be glad you did!


* Accumulating leaves on newly seeded grass can damage young tender seedlings. Use a leaf blower, rake gently or use the bagging attachment on the mower to pick up the leaves. 

* Raise the height of the deck and mow one last time before putting the mower away for winter. 

* If there are not too many leaves, a mulching mower can chop fallen leaves and will help add organic matter to the turf. Using the bagging attachment can also be an effective way for chopping and collecting leaves for the compost pile or garden beds. 

* Nitrogen fertilizer can still be applied if you have not put out the fall application yet. Be conservative and BE SURE to follow rate applications to minimize run off pollution. 


* Remove dead annuals and plant winter annual color in places that are easy to maintain and water, small pockets in the garden or containers.

* Cut back dead foliage, stems and seed heads of ornamental grasses and perennials before spring growth. Leave seed heads for winter birds and interest. 

* A few leaves will not hurt the perennial bed as long as they do not cover evergreen plants; a heavy layer of leaves can cause plants below to rot during the winter.

* We are still in a good window for planting spring and early flowering bulbs. Take time to thoroughly loosen the soil and add amendment for better bulb establishment. Plant bulbs to a depth equal to 4 times the height of the bulb.

* Take time to evaluate the garden – what worked, what didn’t and what’s missing. Update seasonal garden notes and make plans for the next growing season.

* Help shrubs and trees overwinter and avoid pruning until February. Removing dead wood and odd stems here and there is OK. 


* Clean up around cane and tree fruits. Rake leaves and remove fruit hanging from the trees or fallen to the ground. Good sanitation is important for good pest management. 

* Do not prune fruit trees until March.


* Plant garlic and cover with 1-2 inches of soil, space 2-6 inches apart and mulch well, garlic does not compete well with weeds. 

* Leafy greens may be ready to harvest. Pull whole plants to thin if needed. Otherwise remove lower leaves and allow the plant to continue growing. Cover with polyspun fabric to protect from cold temperatures.

* Grow herbs on a sunny window. Try chives, parsley or basil.

* If you missed the window for sowing cover crops, an inch to two of leaves, preferably shredded or chopped with the mower, can be used to cover the garden and protect the soil during the winter. It will also allow access to plant an early spring garden.

* Make seasonal garden notes to track what you grew and where you grew it for crop rotation planning next season.


* Re-install the downspout and store rain barrels or turn them upside down so they don’t collect water. 

* Disconnect, drain and store garden hoses. 

* Wipe or brush dirt from hand tools, lightly oil to reduce rust.

* Move low-fired terra cotta and other fragile containers and sculpture under covered protection.

Excerps from NC Extension.

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