Northern & Central Midwest
Fertilize Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs have stopped their top growth, so if you didn't do so in spring, it's fine to fertilize now. Use a granular fertilizer, compost, or composted manure and spread past the drip line of the tree. The drip line extends about half again as wide as the crown on established plants.
Check Holiday Plants
Check in-coming holiday plants for pests. You don't want to infect your own houseplants with pests brought in as holiday gifts. The most common offenders are whiteflies on poinsettias, spider mites on ornamental peppers, cyclamen mites on cyclamen, and aphids on Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus. Isolate and treat these plants before letting them join the houseplant family.
Organize Your Tools
This is a good time to organize your storage area for tools. Take everything out and wash tools, pots, and other supplies. Oil your wooden tool handles, sharpen blades, and then store everything neatly with summer tools to the back and early spring potting supplies up front. It'll make life a lot easier when you're frantically potting and planting next spring.
Keep watering your garden until the ground freezes. Plant roots need water right into fall to help them make it through the winter. Evergreens especially need extra water since they don't go completely dormant in winter. Their leaves and needles still transpire moisture, and those without adequate water can die, turning a burnt orange by spring.
Plant Bare-Root Plants
Bare-root trees and shrubs are available at some nurseries and through the mail now, and this is the ideal time to plant them. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the roots when they are spread out. Soak the roots, and place the plant on a small mound of soil in the bottom of the hole. Put back the soil you took out of the hole and water well.