Water Your Leaf Pile
If you've accumulated a small mountain of leaves, help it stay put and rot a little faster by wetting it down every week or so. Moisture helps leach out tannins and other chemicals that inhibit decomposition, the first stage in turning leaves into leaf mold or compost.
Show Off Flowering Houseplants
Display holiday cacti and kalanchoes on the brink of bloom to their best advantage, being careful not to stress them with too much of anything, including sun, water, or food. If the pot is plain, slip it inside a more decorative container, or wrap it in a pretty cloth.
Test Your Soil
This is a great time of year to take soil tests and send them off for analysis, which usually can be arranged through your local Extension office. Inexpensive do-it-yourself soil test kits are sufficient for checking the soil's pH in different parts of your yard.
Snip off old pansy blossoms weekly to keep the plants from wasting energy on a lost cause. Provide water as needed to keep the soil lightly moist, and be ready to mulch over the plants lightly when the weather turns cold very suddenly. Pine straw is perfect for this job.
Clean Up Spent Veggies
Give your vegetable garden a thorough cleaning. Pull up old tomatoes, peppers, and other spent plants, roots and all, along with weeds that grew alongside them. Turn up soil in areas that will be planted early next spring, such as places destined for peas and potatoes.