fall garden prep

4 Fall Garden Tasks to Prepare for Spring

Even though I’m still exhausted from the growing season, I’m not done with the garden just yet. In order to prepare for the spring (which I’m already excited for), there’s 4 fall garden tasks I need to do in the garden to prepare for winter and get a jump start on spring.

1. Check the Current Garden Layout and Make Changes (Plan for Spring)

Some things we only learn by trial and error. Layout is one of those things. I don’t want to lose out on any precious growing time in the spring, so I’m updating and relocating some beds before the ground freezes. If I wait till spring I’ll have to wait for the ground to thaw and that’s going to cost me time when I could be sowing some of those early crops.

I originally planned to have my garden entrance closest to my back door. As it turns out, that’s not going to work for me. We have a large pear tree that I have to walk around to get to the garden, which wouldn’t be a problem except for the thousands of bees and wasps that I fought past all summer each time I entered the garden. Since I can’t move the tree, I’m moving the door. The walk is a little farther, but it’ll be a more pleasant experience for everyone.

I also converted 5 rows of my garden into raised beds. We have hard clay soil and even though I tried my hardest to compost and loosen up the ground, I’m converting to raised beds for my own sanity.

The last layout update is relocating 4 beds in my herb garden. After tending to them all summer I decided to move them to a part of the yard that was easier to stretch the hose to.

2. Clean Up & Clear Out

Much like cleaning up after a party, this is my least favorite fall task. But it has to be done! I get rid of all the spent plants and debris from the summer. If your plants have disease you’ll want to clear them out ASAP, especially if they’re touching the ground, instead of letting them decompose on your soil. Addressing this in the fall will prevent them from overwintering and spreading in the spring. If you compost, don’t put diseased plants in your compost. Discard them separately for the same reason.

To help the microbes in the soil, I cut my spent plants rather than ripping them from the soil (unless they are diseased). The roots will decompose and provide food for soil and will also help with soil aeration.

cut plants at the root

3. Cover the Beds

I like to cover my beds with a thick layer of leaves to suppress weeds, add nutrients, and and prevent erosion during the winter. A thick layer of leaves will insulate the soil during the harsh months of sleet and heavy snows that we get here in zone 7. It will also help to retain moisture. In the spring I mix them deep into the soil with a new layer of compost. They will gradually decompose and enrich the soil, which is great for growing plants.

4. Mulch the Walkways

Hate weeds? You’re in good company. I like to mulch the walkways with a fresh layer of cardboard and a few inches of wood chips to suppress the weeds as much as I can. Be generous and don’t skimp out. The goal is to add so much material that it compresses during the winter and smothers them out come spring. Want free mulch? Use Chip Drop! I got an actual truck load of free wood chips dropped at my home. It’s legit. Check it out!

smother weeds with cardboard

I had a backbreaking battle with pokeweed this year. I’m trying to get ahead of this issue by adding layers of cardboard in the areas where it was the absolute worst and alternating cardboard-mulch-cardboard-mulch.

If you do these 4 fall garden tasks now your future self will thank you. You garden will thrive over the winter and you’ll be able to plant sooner in the spring.

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