Fall Garden Cleanup Checklist

  1. Leaf Removal:
    • Due to Maryland’s deciduous trees, expect a significant amount of leaf drop. Rake and compost leaves, ensuring those from diseased plants are discarded.
  2. Perennials:
    • After the first frost, trim back dead foliage to minimize pest harborage.
    • Divide and transplant perennials that have grown too large or lost vigor.
    • Use plant markers to designate perennial spots for easier spring gardening.
  3. Annuals:
    • Once spent by frost, extract and compost non-diseased annuals.
  4. Lawn Care:
    • Continue mowing routines until the grass becomes dormant.
    • Apply a fall fertilizer to nourish grass roots.
    • Address any lawn compaction by aerating as needed.
  5. Trees & Shrubs:
    • Prune away dead or compromised branches; however, reserve heavy pruning for late winter.
    • Provide adequate water to young or recently planted trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
  6. Bulbs:
    • Fall is an ideal time for planting spring-blooming bulbs in Maryland.
    • After the first frost, remove and store bulbs not tolerant to cold.
  7. Vegetable Garden:
    • Harvest the remaining crops before the onset of heavier frosts.
    • Remove plant debris to deter pests and diseases.
    • Consider planting garlic cloves now for a summer yield.
  8. Garden Tools & Equipment:
    • Clean, hone, and store garden tools to prolong their life.
    • Winterize power equipment by following end-of-season maintenance.
  9. Compost:
    • Rotate your compost pile, integrating layers of fallen leaves.
  10. Mulching:
    • In late fall, blanket perennial beds with protective mulch, using straw or chopped leaves. This shields plant roots from alternating freezing and thawing cycles.
  11. Garden Structures:
    • Inspect and mend raised beds, trellises, and barriers. Ensure they’re primed to withstand winter conditions.
  12. Water Features:
    • Decommission and store pumps, and prepare water features to avoid damage from freezing temperatures.
  13. Protection:
    • Envelop young or vulnerable trees and shrubs with burlap or tree protectors, safeguarding them against winter’s challenges.
  14. Planning for Next Year:
    • Reflect on the year’s gardening journey, noting what flourished and what faltered. Start planning and ordering for the ensuing spring.

Given that Maryland experiences a variety of microclimates, it’s always beneficial to consult with local experts. Riva Gardens might offer specific advice tailored to the current year’s conditions and regional trends.