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Main Content

Garden Checklist | Fall 2011 Out Here Magazine

Improve your garden soil by adding manure, compost, and leaves to increase the organic matter content.

There's still much to do at the end of the growing season

Reprinted courtesy of the
University of Nebraska Extension Service

Photography by iStock

Your garden harvest may be done and flower blooms are long gone, but there’s still plenty to be done around your yard before temperatures start to dip so low that you don’t want to be outside.

Use these tips from the University of Nebraska Extension Service to keep your garden and yard foliage healthy.

  • Allow plants to finish the summer growth cycle in a normal manner. Never encourage growth with heavy applications of fertilizer or excessive pruning at this time. Plants will delay their dormancy process that has already begun in anticipation of winter in the months ahead. New growth can be injured by an early freeze.
  • Water newly planted trees and shrubs to provide sufficient moisture and prevent winter damage. Add a 3-inch layer of organic mulch such as shredded bark around the base of plants to retain soil moisture and regulate soil temperature.
  • Save seeds from favorite self-pollinating, non-hybrid flowers. Start by allowing the flower heads to mature. Lay seeds on newspaper and turn them often to dry. Store the dry seeds in glass jars or envelopes in a cool, dry, dark place.
  • If pesky seedlings of woody plants, such as elm, mulberry, hackberry, or maple are growing in your yard, remove them as soon as possible. If left too long, they will be difficult to uproot and they will take over gardens and other landscape plantings.
  • Pot up chives, parsley, and other herbs to extend the growing season in the house.
  • Don’t wait for frost warnings to move your plants indoors. Temperatures of 45 degrees or lower can damage many tropical houseplants.
  • Fall is a good time for improving your garden soil. Add manure, compost, and leaves to increase the organic matter content.
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs.
  • Cut down stems and foliage of herbaceous perennials after two or three hard frosts and when leaves begin to brown.
  • After several hard frosts, add mulch to your perennial flower garden. A 1-inch layer of straw or chopped leaves will help conserve soil moisture and protect the root system.
  • Pick bagworms from evergreen shrubs. This will eliminate the spring hatch from over-wintered eggs.
  • Remove any diseased or insect-infested plant material from your garden, because it may harbor over- wintering stages of disease or insect pests. If you leave this plant material in your garden, you are leaving diseases and insects which will begin to reproduce again next spring and add to next year’s pest problem.
  • Clean up the orchard and small fruit plantings. Sanitation is essential for good maintenance. Dried fruits or mummies carry disease organisms through the winter to attack next year’s crop.
  • Fall is an excellent time for taking soil samples in your lawn and garden. Soil tests will measure the pH of the soil, organic matter content, and the levels of some of the major elements required for plant growth, such as phosphorus and potassium.
  • Take root cuttings from annual bedding plants, such as begonias, coleus, geraniums, and impatiens. These plants can be overwintered in a sunny window and provide plants for next year’s garden.
  • And finally, make a note of any particular productive or unsatisfactory varieties of vegetables that you planted this year. Such information can be very useful when planning next year’s garden.