The end of the summer season can be difficult for gardeners and landscape lovers because the arrival of cooler temperatures calls for end-of-season garden clean-up and winter preparations.
If you live in a hot climate, you have another garden season to go. If you live in a cold climate, you'll soon put your garden to rest. In either case, a thorough clean-up at the end of the season gets your garden off to a good start moving forward.
Even if you have a few plants left in the soil for a fall harvest, your summer crops will require clean-up. This task might be exhausting after a long and draining season. Sometimes just thinking about a clean slate gives you extra energy to prepare the garden for next year.
Give your garden and lawn the care they require by removing debris, adding mulch, and maintaining crowded perennials so plants can return stronger. In this article, you'll learn some essential tasks for your end-summer clean-up to help you have a great winter and spring start. Let's begin!
End of Summer Clean-up tasks
As the summer season ends and the cool breezes of fall arrive, it is time to prepare for the changing seasons by giving your outdoor space a complete end-of-summer clean-up. This seasonal maintenance keeps your landscape tidy and protects and preserves your outdoor furniture, plants, and the entire outdoor environment.
Clean and Store Outdoor Furniture
Before storing your outdoor furniture for the fall:
- Give it a good cleaning before the fall weather takes its toll.
- Wipe down tables, chairs, and cushions with warm water and mild soap.
- Remove any stains or dirt.
- Allow the furniture to dry before covering it or storing it in a dry and protected area to protect it from rain, snow, or other harsh winter conditions.
Remove Summer Debris
After cleaning your outdoor space:
- Pay attention to your garden or landscape.
- Start by clearing away any summer debris, such as fallen leaves, dead plants, weeds, and spent perennials.
- Rake the garden beds, lawns, and pathways to remove accumulated debris.
Additionally, raking beds fluffs the soil, allowing water and air to penetrate. This also prevents pests and diseases from overwintering and allows for a fresh start in the following growing season.
Harvest all Remaining Vegetables
Harvest any remaining fruits, vegetables, or herbs before dumping their host plants. Don't let them waste! You can use or preserve them in the kitchen by freezing, drying, or canning. Moreover, you can dry and use healthy herbs in the winter.
Save your Seeds
Saving vegetable seeds is a good idea. For crops like beans and squash, let the fruits mature and ripen and dry on the plant before picking. Store seeds in labeled jars in a cold and dry place.
Remove Weeds and Deadhead
Removing weeds and deadheads is an important end-of-summer clean-up task. Weeds grow faster at the end of the summer season due to ideal conditions. Despite the dry and hot climate, the weed seeds flourish. If you leave weeds unchecked in your garden, your veggies and flowers will compete for the soil nutrients, which can cause die-offs. So, take time to remove weeds daily.
Similarly, it is crucial to consistently deadhead your plants because doing so will keep annual pots and perennial gardens more attractive. Pick off any old, spent flowers from your plants (this is easiest done by hand) to foster healthy new growth and the development of buds. Consistency in this procedure can prevent unruly plants from spawning and out-competing other varieties in your garden. This task will force ever-bearing plants to focus on developing new buds and blossoms.
Maintain Shrubs and Trees
Don't overlook your trees, shrubs, and other perennials. The end of summer should mark the start of the pruning season. Pruning the shrubs, trees, and other perennials will foster new growth and strengthen your plants to endure the winter. However, be careful when pruning! Only prune the shrubs and trees with quality pruning shears when necessary, and water them frequently because water tends to evaporate quickly at this time of year.
Adjust your sprinklers and watering system when the temperature falls. Decrease watering frequency but increase watering sessions to meet the changing plant requirement. To prevent overwatering, monitor rainfall and modify irrigation accordingly.
Prepare Mulch and Compost
Maintaining loose, insulated, and nutrient-rich soil must be a top priority once the cooler days arrive. Creating your own compost using the kitchen and garden scrap is always a good idea.
You can create a mulch pile by adding organic materials, including rotted vegetables, leaves, and plant scraps that will eventually develop into compost.
After removing the last fall harvest from your garden, you must have prepared compost and mulch to spread to enhance the spacing areas for your next planting season.
Regularly Clear Leaves
When autumn leaves begin to fall, removing them from the lawn is important. Although the brilliant leaf colors might create a beautiful atmosphere, they can make a mess in your garden.
Regularly rake and collect fallen leaves, especially those accumulating on your lawn and flower beds. A dense layer of leaves on the grass may hinder growth and serve as a breeding ground for pests and diseases.
Composting the leaves might help you develop nutrient-rich soil for the next gardening season. Consider hiring a professional landscaping service if you have a large yard or cannot manage the leaf collecting alone.
Clean Garden Tools and Store Them
Take some time to clean and maintain your garden tools. Remove any dirt and debris from your trowels, pruners, and shovels. If necessary, sharpen the blades, and to avoid corrosion, apply oil such as vegetable or linseed oil. Properly store your tools in a shed or designated place.
Plan for Plant Fall
Even if we're talking about summer clean-up, you don't want your garden to be bare all winter. Erosion from the rain, freezing, or thawing cycle may remove the topsoil from your garden, as the nutrient-rich topsoil is the primary source of plants.
So, plan for fall planting. Research and choose the best cool-season vegetables, flowers, and bulbs for your garden. However, if you can't grow more vegetables in your garden, plant cover crops to keep the soil moist and prevent weed growth.
The Bottom Line
As you wrap up your end-of-summer clean-up, consider creating a list of tasks to get done before winter sets. This can include protecting any outdoor furniture, storing seeds, preparing mulch and compost, and winterizing your garden tools. By following this checklist, you will surely have a beautifully winterized garden ready to impress you with a lush, green harvest once the warm weather returns.