Here are some additional tips you might consider if you have a large backyard garden:
- Rake leaves. Left on the lawn, they will cut off sunlight to the grass and trap moisture, encouraging fungus diseases. But don't discard them if you have a place to start a compost pile. Shredded and broken down for a few months, they are prime organic matter to improve your soil.
- Spread finished compost on perennial, vegetable beds or on the lawn to enrich the soil and make room for the new crop of leaves. Half-finished compost should go back in the pile with the new leaves as well as old annual, perennial and vegetable plants.
- Weeds may die when frost hits, but their seeds survive in the soil. So pull all you see and discard them in the compost or put them into the landscape waste.
- Tidy up. Any plant you suspect might be diseased should go in the landscape waste including diseased tree and shrub leaves. Otherwise, removing the stalks and foliage of perennials is a matter of taste: Cut them down if you are the neat type, or leave them if you like the look. Most people leave ornamental grasses standing.
- Clear out the vegetable garden.
- Put diseased plants in the landscape waste and the rest in the compost. Dig composted manure or other organic matter into the vegetable bed so by spring it will be nicely broken down in the soil. And once you've tidied up, plant your winter crops.
If you are someone that does a container gardening make sure to take out all dead plant material and dirt. You will want to wash out your pots and store them for next year. When doing container gardens you will want fresh dirt every year to ensure healthy growth of your new plants and seeds.