Order Spring Bulbs
Snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, and tulips are so welcome after even our shorter winters. They remind us of nature's rhythm, spring's promise, and the summer to come. Daffodils, Siberian squill, alliums, and grape hyacinths are largely deer resistant. Scan catalogs for attractive, new narcissus colors and cultivars. In city gardens and walled or fenced gardens where deer don't frequent, be extravagant with tulips. Most tulips -- especially the tall, showy, flamboyant, specialty types -- only bloom once or twice. Replanting will assure spring flowers. Species tulips return and colonize.
Plant Butterfly Favorites
Besides planting milkweed for monarch butterfly larvae to eat, add spicebush for the spicebush swallowtail, pawpaw tree for the zebra swallowtail; fennel for the cloudless sulphur butterfly, and the hop tree for the giant swallowtail.
Prepare a Holding Bed
Autumn is a great time to take advantage of shrub and perennial sales. Not exactly sure where to put those irresistibly priced plants you've coveted all summer? Prepare a holding bed to keep them in the ground until spring planting. This could be an extension of an existing bed or a new bed in an out of the way spot (but not so out of the way that it's not convenient to water and weed).
Prepare Houseplants to Bring Indoors
There are several steps to preparing the houseplants you summered outside for a winter back indoors. You don't want them to bring hitchhiking pests back inside. Give plants a good spray of water to dislodge any pests and clean dirt and dust off leaves. For extra protection, spray plants with insecticidal soap 2-3 times at 7 days intervals, being sure to cover leaf undersides as well as tops. Make the transition back inside gradual, over 10-14 days, so that plants have a chance to adjust to lower indoor light levels. You'll see less leaf drop than if you move plants abruptly.
Sow Grass Seed
Does your lawn have disturbed, muddy, or grassless spots? Is there an area you want to see grass in next spring? Now is a good time to repair damaged lawn areas or seed new one. Grass germinates well in the still warm soil and grows well in cooler fall weather, long after frost has nipped annual weeds. Be sure to keep the seedbed moist until the seed sprouts, then water every day or two while the tender seedlings are getting established.