Now is the perfect time of year to finish up summer landscape projects, prepare garden beds for the winter as well as plan for next year’s garden.

For a harvest of hues, choose a variety of plants for late-season colour. With a little planning you can have rich autumn colour, bright foliage along with attractive fruits and berries in your garden throughout the fall season.

For a more natural landscape, look to the later blooming perennials such as sedums, asters, hardy chrysanthemums, coneflowers and ornamental grasses.

Cotoneasters, saskatoons and cranberries show an abundance of fall berries while the natural colouring of the gold flame spirea harvests beautifully in any fall landscape.

Here’s a checklist for fall gardening projects:

  • Try not to hurry when cutting back perennials. Seed heads and foliage that are just colouring up can be beautiful to any gardener’s eye.
  • Cut back only the plants that are diseased, past their prime or those that may become “weeds” if allowed to freely self-seed. Those perennial foliages that should be cut back include hosta, iris and peony. Leave the rest to Mother Nature. (Most dying foliages will help to protect the plant through the winter months.)
  • Divide and transplant perennials such as peonies and irises.
  • After the first frost of fall, dig up dahlias, begonias, cannas and similar non-hardy bulbs for winter storage.
  • Remove annuals from your garden and clean up flower beds.
  • Regularly remove leaves and give your lawn a strong rake to allow for direct sunlight to hit the grass in the spring.
  • Continue to water newly planted perennials, trees and shrubs to promote strong root growth.
  • Check for dry zones in your landscape and see that trees and shrubs in these areas are well-watered.
  • Aerate your lawn and reseed any dead or thin spots.
  • Prepare soil for new beds by adding organic matter such as compost or manure.
  • Apply fall fertilizer to your lawn.
  • Empty pots and containers and store them in a frost-free area such as abasement or garage.
  • Finish up outdoor landscape projects such as walls, walkways, fences, decks and patios.
  • Make a few notes on what worked well this year, what plants did not survive the winter along with any changes you would like to make for the following spring.

Now is the perfect time of year to enjoy the winding down of summer while finishing up those outdoor projects and preparing for the next season.

By leaving your fall gardens in good condition, you can start with a fresh palette in the spring. Fall gardening offers a multitude of fun outdoor projects that the whole family is sure to enjoy.