Mow Those Leaves
As tree leaves fall, it is important to prevent a heavy layer from building up on the lawn, as they can smother and kill grass. The easiest way to dispose of leaves is to simply mow them into the turf. Regular mowing during the fall chops the leaves into small pieces, allowing them to filter into the turf and increase the organic matter and nutrition of the soil. Mulching leaves with a mower is much easier than raking, blowing, and/or vacuuming the leaves, plus it disposes of leaves without filling up our landfills.
Start Planting Paper Whites and Amaryllis
Depending on the conditions, paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis take about four to six weeks to come into bloom after potting. Start some now to have blooms during the early part of the holiday season, then pot up more every two or three weeks so you'll have them to enjoy over a long period this winter. Amaryllis are usually planted in potting mix, but they can be set in pebbles and water like paper whites if you want to discard the bulb after flowering. Tall glass containers are useful for paper whites as they keep the foliage from flopping.
Start Something New
When the garden is all cleaned up, step back and make an assessment of where you could start a new planting area to make your garden better. Perhaps a shrub border around the patio or a bed of flowers along the front walk has been on your wish list. Many fall days are warm enough to be outdoors, and this is a good time to create these new areas. Remove grass, if necessary; consider renting a sod remover if the area is large. Apply corn gluten pre-emergent herbicide, and then spread a 4- to 6-inch layer of hardwood mulch. Depending on the plants chosen, either plant now or wait until spring.
Winterize Tools and Supplies
Drain hoses, then coil and put away. Run power equipment until all the gas is used, then service it in order to beat the rush next spring. Clean and sharpen hand tools and wipe off garden furniture before storing in a dry place. Put all liquid fertilizers and other liquid supplies in an area that does not freeze. Store leftover seed in a refrigerator or freezer. Disinfect pots and trays in a diluted bleach solution. Make an inventory of tools, supplies, and seeds so that you'll know what you need to buy.
Use An Antidesiccant Spray
To protect rhododendrons and other broad-leaved evergreens, spray them with an antidesiccant spray when temperatures are above 40 degrees F. Apply another coat during a midwinter warm spell. This helps the plants to survive dehydrating winter winds. Also spread a 4- to 6-inch layer of hardwood mulch around the plants. This will keep the soil evenly moist and protect the roots.