Autumn is beginning to take shape. Glorious fall colors can be enjoyed along roadsides, in woodlands, gardens and landscapes. And so it goes, another fall is unfolding, sending signals of shorter days and cooler nights to plants and people alike. It’ll soon be time to bed the landscape for the winter season. But before you get to hang up your gardening gloves and store the spade, here are some chores you should get done in your early fall garden.

Leaves on grass

Matted leaves can smother young grass seedlings.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Fall planter

Ornamental flowering cabbages are wonderful in fall planters.

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

Basket of bulbs

Spring-flowering bulbs are readily available at your favorite garden supply store. Buy early for the best selection!

Photo Credit: Donna W. Moramarco

  • If your bird feeders have been on a summer vacation, it’s time to clean and ready them for the beginning of the long feeding season – from now until natural food becomes available to our feathered friends again late next spring!
  • If you’ve got houseplants that have been outside for a summer vacation, it’s time to bring them back indoors. Do a careful inspection of all plants before they come in, so you don’t bring any unwanted six-legged pests indoors for the winter! Not sure what the pest is? Visit the staff at your local garden center or cooperative extension office for identification and potential solutions. Make it easy on them, and remember to bring an intact sample of the pest with you.
  • If you recently reseeded your lawn, remember to keep those newly-seeded areas free of leaves. Fallen foliage can matt down and smother young grass. Use a bamboo rake to carefully remove the leaves – or use a leaf blower if you’ve got one.
  • If you want springtime color, get to your garden centers and mass merchandisers to pick up some bulbs. You’ve probably heard the slogan “Fall is for Planting.” This saying is especially true for spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, scillas and more. Shop early for best selection to secure your favorites!
  • If you’ve got old, tired-looking summer planters, perk them up with flowering cabbage and kale, winter-hardy pansies, ornamental peppers, hardy mums and ornamental grasses. Refreshed planters will give you many weeks of new enjoyment!
  • If you’ve got grubs, remember they’re still active during late September and into October, so don’t miss this opportunity to treat any lawn areas where grubs are found. Late summer through early fall is the best time to control these pests. If you wait too long and the soil cools, the grubs will have already dug deeper into the soil to spend the winter months.
  • If you’ve got a vegetable garden, continue to harvest any remaining warm-season vegetables. But don’t expect any new bumper crops of tomatoes at this stage of the game! Got too much of a good thing going in your vegetable garden? Make a donation to your local food bank.
  • If you live farther north, keep an eye on the weather so you can cover any plants you need to protect! For some, it still may be too soon for an early frost. For others, you may have had a frosty morning or two already. First and last frost dates are averages – not hard and fast dates!

For many, it’s been a long summer of dragging hoses to keep valued plants alive, battling pest problems and keeping up with the weeds. And we’re not done just yet. The cooler fall weather can be so inviting and agreeable to get the necessary garden chores done. And once they’re finished, you can get out there and enjoy all of autumn’s glories!