With the warm September weather we’ve been enjoying, it’s hard to believe Autumn has officially begun! Fall is arguably the most important of all seasons for your garden. Fall gardening work done now will produce impressive results come spring. Here’s a handy fall gardening checklist with some helpful links on how and when to prepare your garden.

Garden by Little Creek Landscaping

Garden by Little Creek Landscaping in Edmonton

 September
  • Add compost or manure to garden beds and turn the soil.
  • Cover water features like a small pond or fountain with netting to collect falling leaves.
  • Check houseplants for pests or grubs, then start to move indoors.
  • Plant new trees and shrubs, to give them at least six weeks before frost comes.
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs.
  • Continue watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
  • Bring in any clay pots.
  • Pull weeds before they go to seed to reduce the number of weeds next year.
  • Clean bird feeders, gardening tools.
  • Apply fall lawn fertilizer #1. (See last section below)
Garden beds by APS Landscaping

Garden beds by APS Landscaping

October
  • Transplant shrubs or young trees to new locations.
  • Cut diseased areas out of perennials. Do not compost.
  • Rake and compost any fallen leaves.
  • Clean up garden debris. Remove all vegetable plants and fallen fruit.
  • Remove dead annuals from the garden. (Ideally, this is done after the first frost, but before the first snowfall in order to avoid a wet, messy job!)
  • Cut back perennial foliage to discourage overwintering pests. Leave flowers with seeds for the birds.
  • Continue watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
  • Trim tall grass away from trees and corners of your home to discourage small rodents from creating nests.
  • Dig up tender bulbs such as dahlia, canna and gladiola. Wrap them in moist material and store in a cool, dark space.
  • Sharpen lawn mower blade and pruners.
  • Apply fall lawn fertilizer #2. (See last section below.)
Front lawn work by The Garden Girls

Front lawn work by The Garden Girls

November
  • Divide perennial plants to make room.
  • Continue watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
  • Wrap screening around fruit tree trunks to protect from small animals.
  • Mulch rose bushes.
  • Clean fallen leaves from downspouts and gutters.
  • Turn off outside water connections to prevent frost damage. Drain and hang garden hoses.
Planters by Kleiner Services in BC

Planters by Kleiner Services in BC

Special considerations for Fall lawn care

Damaged areas of your lawn will recover more quickly with two applications of Fall fertilizer. The first application should be made in September to help turf recover from damage that occurred during the growing season. The second application should be made in mid-to-late October when the turf has stopped growing but is still green. This will ensure good winter survival and early spring green-up. Timing is critical. Fertilizer applied too early will promote succulent growth in the fall that will make the lawn more susceptible to winter injury. Fertilizer applied too late will be of no benefit to the turf. If you apply a late-fall fertilizer, spring fertilization can be delayed until late May to early June.

For both applications, use the same fertilizer, like a 20-5-15 mix with nitrogen and potash to stimulate turf growth and repair, and harden off the turf for winter.  The numbers on a fertilizer bag, in N-P-K order, indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (or potash), respectively, on a weight basis. If you purchased a 10-kg bag, 2 kg (or 20%) is nitrogen, 0.5kg is phosphorus, and 1.5kg is potassium. The remaining 60% is simply filler, or inert ingredients, which are there mostly to help disperse the chemicals. For both applications, fertilizer should be applied to deliver 0.5 kg of nitrogen per 100 m2.blog-fertilizer-formula

Backyard by Luca Landscaping and Stone Design

Backyard by Luca Landscaping and Stone Design

However, some lawn damage is too extensive to be fixed with just Fall fertilizer. For those areas, uniformly distribute a grass seed mixture in two directions, making sure the seed is in contact with the soil. Seed-to-soil contact can be enhanced by core aerating to reduce soil compaction before spreading seed. Once grass seed is planted, water the lawn regularly for the first few weeks. Give your lawn a final cut before the risk of snow. Raise the mowing height slightly in the fall to a height of about 2-1/2 inches.

We hope this checklist helps you with Fall gardening work now that will produce impressive results come Spring.

Check out our Landscape Contractors & Designers and Garden Maintenance categories to help you create your dream garden this fall and remember to write a review when you’re done!

Posted by David Bounsall