Fall Maintenance Checklist

By Jay Ladell

October is the best time to get your yard ready for winter. Fall landscape maintenance reaps great dividends in spring: you’ll have fewer repairs to do plus a healthier garden.

dreamstime_1307175Now is a great time to plant spring bulbs, cut back perennials and remove annuals.

Please remember to keep watering trees and shrubs since those that are deprived of water are more prone to being stressed in winter.

Here is guide to fall clean up tasks that you can cut out and post on your fridge:

Fall Garden To Do List:

Yard Clean Up

  • Rake and remove fallen leaves and dead material from the lawn, paved areas and decks
  • Leave a thin layer of leaves in the garden beds as it benefits the soil
  • Cut down dead perennials, but leave plants and ornamental grasses that still have fall interest
  • Remove all seed pods from any remaining perennials or shrubs that self-seed
  • Clear the patio and paved areas; put away furniture, outdoor accessories and planters
  • Drain hoses and bring inside
  • Turn off outdoor faucets
  • Pull weeds before they go to seed
  • Remove dead annuals from the garden, after a frost

Eaves Troughs

  • Clean fallen leaves in downspouts and gutters.
  • Disconnect rain barrels and ensure downspouts empty at least 3ft from the foundation (grading away from the house)

Prepare Plants

  • Wrap young trees: deciduous trees with tender bark require their trunks to be wrapped to protect them from animal damage; small evergreen trees require protection from winter winds for the first two years. Drive tree-high stakes in around the evergreen tree and wrap burlap around the stakes
  • Divide large clumps of spring and summer blooming perennial plants
  • Cut diseased areas out of perennials
  • Prune hybrid tea, grandiflora and floribunda roses down to knee height after frost and cover with mulch to protect over the winter

Spring Bulbs

  • Purchase bulbs early for best selectionTulipa 'Estella Rijnveld' + 'Holland Chic'
  • Plant tulip and crocus bulbs in late fall to avoid the squirrels

Prepare Tools

  • Clean, sharpen and oil your tools before winter storage
  • Purchase de-icing spreads that will not damage your interlocking bricks or plants


  • Now is the time to plan for next year while the ideas are still fresh in your mind
  • If you are thinking of a landscaping project for next year, this is the time to sit down with a designer — you will avoid the spring rush and your project will be booked at the beginning of the season.


Article originally published in the O.S.C.A.R. newspaper

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