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The Dos and Don'ts for Fall Gardening

October 2022

With the first sign of fall, it’s not uncommon to start thinking of your to-do list before winter hits. We compiled an essential list of ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ that includes garden clean-up and plant care.

DO: Insulate your soil with mulch 

As you prepare for colder weather by breaking out the sweaters and coats, it’s similar to what your plants need. Putting down a layer of mulch in your garden helps insulate the soil so the roots and bulbs can get through the harsh winters. However, you need to wait for the ground to freeze before adding mulch because then it’s too cold for pests to crawl in there and hibernate (and possibly spread diseases).

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DO: Store herbs indoor

Most herbs can thrive indoors with the right care. Depending on your goals, you can either:


  1. Clip off the healthy stems, rinse with cold water, fill a mason jar with an inch of water, and store stems in a bunch with saran wrap loosely placed over top (lasts 2 to 3 weeks).

  2. Repot herbs in a high-quality soil and pot that allows root ball room to grow.  


Repotting your herbs allows them to continue thriving indoors. The key is to leave the repotted herbs outside for a week so they can adjust to their new containers while remaining in a comfortable environment. Once that time outside subsides, bring it indoors and place the pot in a spot that receives at least six hours of direct/bright sunlight each day (like a sunny window)

DO: Keep seed heads from perennials

Perennials are plants that come back year after year (some can live upward of 25 years!). However, some perennials are not freeze-tolerant, so it typically takes them longer to show up again the following year. 


If they come back each year, then why do I need to keep the seed heads?


There are two main reasons: planting the seeds in the spring encourages last year’s plants to bloom earlier, and removing the head eliminates the potential of seeds traveling to unwanted places during the winter. Before the ground freezes, it’s a good idea to cut the seeds heads off and store them in a sandwich bag or paper envelope. Store them in a dark, cool room until next spring.

DON’T: Quit watering too early

It’s best to water plants until the first week of December when they naturally freeze. If you stop watering too early, your plants will dry out and die and then pass on diseases to healthy plants and soil. The roots will continue to grow until they freeze, so don’t quit watering your plants too early!

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DON’T: Leave dead plants laying around

Leaving deceased plants on the ground during the winter can lead to the spread of diseases to the surrounding healthy plants and soil. It’s best to clean up the garden before the ground freezes so the soil and plants stay nourished and insulated in a healthy environment.

DON’T: Rake leaves out of garden beds

Before winter and after the ground freezes, allow leaves to accumulate in your garden bed for extra protection from the winter. Leaves release a mix of nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorus that new plants will utilize to grow in the spring. Note: make sure to remove leaves before the ground freezes to avoid disease-filled pests burrowing underneath them for the duration of the winter.

One of the most important garden tips for this fall is to invest in high-quality cedar garden beds and planters so your planting structure has a higher chance of survival during the winter. Check out our Outdoor Essentials® garden beds and planters to complete your winter preparation!