Blanket your garden with mulch in the fall. ATTRIBUTION: jeffreyw (Flickr)

Cool, crisp weather means the end of summer and the beginning of a new gardening season. Enjoy the brisk fall conditions as you get outside and prepare your garden for the onset of winter. Fall is an excellent time to plant shrubs and trees, cut back perennials, and fertilize the ground for a healthier lawn come next spring. Follow this checklist of gardening tasks to complete this fall.

1. Clean Up

Before planting new bulbs or seeds, clean out old annuals and weeds as well as any foliage that has fallen onto the soil. If applicable, dispose of any rotten fruit from around trees, as these infestations can survive until winter.

2. Plant

Choose the cooler days of fall to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. The soil is still warm and the rain is plentiful, allowing for optimal root growth.

3. Enrich Beds

Enrich your garden beds with manure or compost. Spread an even layer on the exposed soil.

4. Mulch

Give your perennial beds a good layer of mulch. You’ll also want to mulch around the crowns of the plants once the ground has frozen to reduce the risk of a frost heave.

5. Collect Seeds

Collect the dried seeds from open pollinated vegetables and flowers. These seeds can be saved to sow next year or used in other parts of the garden.

6. Snip

Fall is a great time to make new plants from cuttings. Take approximately 10 centimeter cuttings from various hardwood herbs, such as bay or rosemary.

7. Get a Soil Test

The laboratories are usually less busy during the fall, meaning you’ll get the results of your soil test back sooner. Make any adjustments in the fall for a healthier garden next spring.

8. Build

Create a simple compost bin to hold your fall leaves. Continue to add grass cuttings and fresh leaves to the pile and cover until spring.

9. Prepare Frames

Clean and prepare your cold frames for winter use. This task is made easier if accomplished before the weather gets too cold.

10. Mow

Get your lawn a good mow one last time before winter. If you’re experiencing problems with stubborn crab grass, spread corn gluten meal over the troublesome areas.

11. Leave Food

Provide food for birds by leaving a supply of dried flowers, seed heads, and ornamental grasses for them to eat.

12. Cover

If you have a water garden, you’ll want to properly prepare it for winter. Turn off the water pump and turn on the ice breaker. Cover the garden with netting to keep leaves and other debris out.

13. Bring Pots In

Bring gardening pots indoors to avoid damage. Pots made of ceramic, terra cotta, and plastic can crack when exposed to extreme temperatures.

14. Rake

Rake up and get rid of any leaves around apple trees, roses, and other plants that are susceptible to powdery mildew.

15. Give Shelter

Avoid removing brush piles, logs, and dead groundcover around your garden. These areas provide shelter to beneficial insects, such as lady beetles and spiders.

16. Discard

Toss diseased potato, tomato, and squash foliage to prevent the spread of disease throughout your garden. Do not compost these items. Instead, bag them and discard.

17. Scrub Tools

Clean, sand, and oil your gardening tools. This will ensure that they are in excellent shape when removed from storage in the spring.