Inland Northwest, High Desert
Start Garden Cleansing
The old saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is perfect for the garden. A good garden cleanup now will keep next year's weeds, bugs, and diseases at bay. Chores include cutting back spent perennials to 6 inches from the ground and cleaning out and composting spent annual flowers and vegetable plants.
Continue to Water
Roots of trees and shrubs are still growing in fall and need irrigation if rains (or snows!) don't come. Cut back to a good soaking every couple of weeks. Lay the hose under the dripline around trees and shrubs and water slowly until the ground is saturated. A good soaking will help plants survive the drying winds of winter.
Stop pruning now. It\'s still warm enough that plants might put out new growth, which is what pruning encourages, and new growth will surely be killed by freezing temperatures. We don\'t want that to happen. Plus, a plant that\'s actively growing is less likely to harden off before before winter comes.
Fall is not a good time to fertilize any ornamentals in our area. Most trees and shrubs should be fine if the soil they're growing in is relatively fertile. Hold off on the fertilizer until early spring. Plants can use fertilizer better in the warming soils of spring than in the cool soils of fall.
Rake the Lawn
Rake the lawn and harvest the leaves as they drop. Leaves can keep the grass from seeing daylight, which encourages disease. I rake the leaves into a long row, lay a tarp beside them, and run the mower over them to chop them up and blow them onto the tarp. Then I pick up the tarp and neatly transport the leaves to the compost pile.