Late Fall Garden Tips

Our fall landscapes are changing colors and looking beautiful.  Eventually a hard frost and winter snap will bring an abrupt end to all our autumn beauty.  Golden yellow leaves on honeylocusts and cottonwoods, bright red leaves on maples and autumn purple ash will turn brown and fall to the ground.  Any trees that have not started turning color yet will dry up green.  There are a few late coloring trees like oaks looking very nice right now.  Once the leaves fall from the trees, the real work begins.  Following are suggestions for taking care of our landscape plants and tidying up.

Prepare your Gardens and Landscape Now

As we Gardeners watch the temperatures falling, keep in mind how the freezing temps will affect our landscape and the plants growing therein.  There are many gardening tasks which can still be completed before the ground freezes. Remember, the days are growing shorter; therefore “making hay while the sun shines,” takes on extra meaning over the next couple of weeks. The following is a list of to-do’s specific for this month:

  • Rake leaves from the lawn just as soon as the tree is bare.  Leaves left on the lawn through the winter months can smother the grass.
  • Dry leaves can be mowed into the lawn to add valuable mulch, set the mower height high and mow over them several times to make as fine as possible.  Otherwise bag them up and check with your municipality for a collection site.
  • Water all plants well as it has been fairly dry lately.  Plant roots should be moist going into cold weather, especially trees.  Plan on winter watering every month throughout the winter, especially on any perennials, roses, shrubs and trees that were planted this year.
  • Do not cut back newly planted perennials or shrubs or woody plants such as roses, butterfly bush, lavender and other late blooming plants until next spring.  Birds and wildlife will appreciate the seed heads and foliage cover.
  • Early blooming and established perennials may be cut back half to two thirds.  The stubble will provide a little insulation and protect the roots from the freeze/thaw cycles we experience in Colorado.  Any diseased or insect infested plants should be cut back to the ground.
  • Continue planting bulbs and garlic until the ground freezes.
  • Remove spent vegetable plants from the garden.  Root vegetables that are still growing may be mulched heavily for harvesting into the winter months.
  • Keep watering the lawn during the mid-day if possible if the weather is dry.  Apply last application of lawn fertilizer.