Fall Gardening Tips

Following these fall gardening tips gives you a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the changing season in your garden. I think that this is my very favourite time of the gardening year.

There is something so exciting about that very first morning when you step through the back door and realise that there is a definite chill in the air and that you can catch a hint of the earthy smoky smell of autumn.

I love it, and need no prompting to head into the garden at every opportunity.

These autumn gardening tips are a great way to keep your garden in good condition while giving you an excuse to enjoy the beauty of the season!

The tips are divided into those for early fall (roughly September in the Northern hemisphere, March in the Southern hemisphere), mid fall (October/April), and late fall (November/May).

I hope you find them helpful!

Early Fall Gardening Tips

Ponds, pools and other water features

Early autumn is a good time to tidy up your garden pond ready for winter.

Remove any dead or dying growth on your aquatic plants, clear out any bits of rubbish that may have accumulated, and then protect the surface with netting to prevent the water becoming clogged with dead and decaying leaves which can be harmful to your aquatic plants and fish.

The ornamental garden

If conditions are dry you may need to continue watering but do see the advice on using water wisely.

Continue to remove weeds from borders - this becomes less of a chore as the season progresses.

Give your evergreen hedges a final trim.

Early fall is a good time to divide perennials that flower between early spring and early summer (if you're not sure how to do this, we've written a step-by-step guide on how to divide perennials successfully).

Plan for the next growing season by planting spring flowering bulbs such as narcissus, crocus and hyacinth - and don't forget to pop some into containers to brighten your patio area when springtime comes around.

You can also sow seeds of hardy annuals to ensure a good early display of colour in the spring. The toughest of these can be sown directly into the ground in their flowering positions. Good choices include Pot Marigolds (Calendula officinalis), Cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus), Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) and Honesty (Lunaria annua). Unless you live in a colder area, or the winter is unusually severe, they should survive with no added protection.

Slightly more tender hardy annuals do better if you sow them in pots under glass - Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus), Californian Poppy (Eschscholzia) and Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala subsp. bicornis) are some of my own favourites.

The kitchen garden

Stake or earth up brussels sprouts and spouting broccoli to prevent them from flopping over in the wind.

Encourage indoor tomatoes to ripen by removing the lower leaves and pinching out the growing tips. For outdoor tomatoes, cut off the trusses and allow to ripen on the vine on a sunny windowsill. Any fruits that remain green can be used to make green tomato chutney - delicious!

Harvest any vegetables and fruit that are ready.

Make sure you are going to have a ready supply of fresh salads by sowing lamb's lettuce (corn salad) and autumn varieties of spinach outdoors, and salad leaves, rocket and mustard greens under cover.

Now is also the time to sow winter hardy varieties of salad onions and to plant winter onion sets.

If you can get hold of young strawberry plants and plant them now, so that they have time to become established before winter arrives, you can look forward to a good crop next summer.


As the growing season winds down, raise the height of your mower blades and cut less frequently.

Now is the time to lavish a little TLC on your lawn by scarifying and aerating it, giving it a autumn feed of low nitrogen lawn fertilizer, and top dressing it (you can find out how here).

This is also the best time of year to sow new lawns from seed.

General maintenance

Check over fences and garden buildings to ensure that they will stand up to the rigors of winter.

Clean out the greenhouse as soon as the summer crops have finished so that it is ready for overwintering tender plants and seedlings.

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Mid Fall Gardening Tips

The ornamental garden

Clear up fallen leaves as necessary.

Plant bare rooted trees and shrubs.

Tidy up any dead or dying herbaceous perennials - especially any that are showing signs of disease (but don't put any diseased matter on your compost heap - you will be storing up problems for the future!).

I like to leave a lot of my herbaceous perennials standing throughout winter: some have attractive seedheads and the dead foliage of many adds winter interest, particularly in frosty weather. Leaving the stems and foliage also affords the crowns some protection from the elements as well as providing cover for wildlife.

Plant tulip bulbs for a spring display and plant out biennials such as sweet williams and wallflowers.

Divide any perennials that you didn't get around to earlier.

The vegetable garden

Sow radishes and winter lettuce in the greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill for winter salads.

Hardy varieties of peas and broad beans can also be sown - but protect with cloches or horticultural fleece in colder areas, or sow in pots under glass.

Harvest marrows and squashes and cure in the sun or a dry shed to allow the skins to harden before storing.

Harvest maincrop potatoes and carrots and allow to dry off in the sun or a dry place before storing.

Harvest and store apples and pears.


Rake up fallen leaves as necessary otherwise they will form a wet rotting mat that encourages disease. Make a virtue out of a necessity by stacking them in a chicken wire cage, or even black plastic bags, and leaving them to decompose into black, crumbly leafmould which is a great soil conditioner.

If you didn't get get around to scarifying, aerating, feeding and topdressing last month - do it now, you will see the benefits next spring!

If you are laying a new lawn from turf, now is a good time to do it.

General maintenance

Clean and store any canes, stakes or other plant supports ready for next year.

Check over tree ties and stakes before the stronger winter winds set in.

Clean out and unblock drains, gutters and waterbutts.

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Late Fall Gardening Tips

The ornamental garden

The growing season is almost at an end so it's really a case of tidying up borders ready for winter and clearing fallen leaves.

Bare root trees and shrubs can be planted but avoid walking on heavy soils in wet conditions. If necessary, simply heel the bare root plants into a bare patch of ground and wait for conditions to improve.

If you have any slightly tender plants in your borders, protect them from the frost and bitter winds with straw, kept in place with a chicken wire cage, or horticultural fleece.

Move tender container plants under cover into a conservatory or greenhouse.

Plant tulip bulbs if you didn't get around to it earlier.

The vegetable garden

This is pretty much your last chance to sow hardy varieties of broad bean but protect with cloches or fleece in colder areas, or sow in pots under cover.

Increase your supply of globe artichokes by detaching suckers from around the crown, potting them up, and growing on in a cold frame or cool greenhouse.

Tidy up your vegetable plot ready for the next season and give it a dressing of lime if necessary.

Cut down the stems and foliage of peas and beans and add to the compost heap, but leave the roots in the soil as they add valuable nitrogen.


If the weather has been mild, lawns may need a final mow before winter sets in - but do make sure that the blades are on a high setting.

Book your lawnmower in for a service and get the blades sharpened ready for next season.

Keep clearing fallen leaves as necessary.

General maintenance

Outdoor water supplies should either be lagged or drained down to protect them from freezing.

If you had planned to sow a new lawn from seed but didn't get around to it, take this opportunity to prepare the site ready for a spring sowing.

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Need More Information?

You will find links to more seasonal gardening advice at seasonal gardening tips.