Fall gardening chores tend to have a “bedtime” theme – before your plants begin their long winter’s nap, they need to be tended and tucked cozily into their beds. Fall gardening is also an exercise in delayed gratification – new plants will barely put down roots before going dormant, cleaned and amended beds won’t show their gratitude until spring, and bulbs disappear underground, making you wonder if they’ll ever reappear.
Don’t despair – instead, use this season to clean up, organize, and take stock of your lawn and garden.
In November, most of the country experiences the first frost or freeze, and with it, the onset of winter dormancy. You can continue many of the gardening chores of September and October as long as your soil isn’t frozen.
Here are some additional lawn and garden chores to consider for November:
Shrubs and Trees
- After the leaves have fallen, you can once again start pruning deciduous trees and shrubs. If your area normally has a warm spell or “Indian Summer,” hold off until you’re sure the plants are dormant so they won’t put out new growth.
- Be on the lookout for berry-covered branches for use in indoor decorations.
- Continue planting container-grown ornamental trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
- Water evergreens until freezing weather, but make sure they don’t get waterlogged.
- Start shopping for a live Christmas tree. If you’re planning to plant it after the holidays, save yourself some work by digging the hole now while the soil is workable, and cover the soil with burlap.
- In zones 8 and warmer, plant bare-root roses, trees, and shrubs, as well as perennials, ornamental grasses, and winter vegetables.
- When you prune, keep some of the cuttings to root indoors.
- Winterize roses after the first frost, but before the ground freezes. Prune canes back to 3’- 4’ or tie up climbers. Then mound soil at least 12” deep and 12” wide around the stem and crown.
Perennials stay green as long as possible to soak up nutrients for the winter.
Perennials and Bulbs
- In colder climates, dig up chrysanthemums after they finish blooming if you want to keep them over the winter.
- After the leaves turn yellow, you can divide and transplant fall-blooming bulbs such as autumn crocus, colchicum, and sternbergia.
- Continue planting winter and spring-flowering bulbs.
- Check on your stored tender bulbs to make sure they’re in a cool, dry place. Make sure you have them labeled so you’ll know what they are.
- If the ground isn’t frozen, you can continue to plant perennials. Look for discounted perennials at the garden center!
- In frost-free areas, you can keep on planting bulbs that don’t require a winter’s chill, such as anemone, amaryllis, calla lilies, freesia, lilies, and garlic.