Northern & Central Midwest
Have Your Soil Tested
Fall is the ideal time to have your soil tested. Contact your local Extension office for a soil sampling kit. Take small scoops of soil from six to eight areas of the garden or landscape beds and mix together in a bucket. Take out one cup, place it in the collection bag and send to the lab.
Protect Young Woody Plants from Rodents
Put barriers of hardware cloth around young trees and shrubs to protect them from rabbit and vole damage. Tender bark of roses, burning bush, and many fruit trees makes a tasty meal in winter. Make sure the barriers extend well above the usual snow line.
Hold Mulch Until Plants are Dormant
Keep reserve piles of mulch near your flower beds. When plants are completely dormant and the ground is freezing -- usually late November or early December -- spread loose mulch such as wood chips, shredded bark, or shredded leaves around crowns of plants. This will prevent freeze-thaw cycles that can heave plants out of the ground.
It's not too late to plant daffodils, tulips, and crocuses, as well as many of the minor bulbs such as squill, snowdrops, and grape hyacinths. Soften the soil by watering a couple of days before planting. Remember to plant in groups, and after planting, water in well and cover with mulch.
Mow Lawn Until Dormant
Continue to mow the lawn until the grass is dormant. Long, unmowed grass that goes into winter encourages not only rodent damage but also increases the risk of pink and gray snow molds. Also, pick up fallen leaves to prevent a soggy mat from forming over the winter.