Fall Gardening Tips for Beginners

Fall Gardening Tips for Beginners | ecogreenlove

Falling leaves signal the beginning of the fall garden clean up season. Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs, cut back perennials, remove annuals and get your lawn healthy for next spring. Remember to keep watering. Trees and shrubs that are deprived of water now will be easily stressed in the winter. Below is a handy guide to fall clean up tasks, vegetables to plant, flowers to plant, when and how to start and finally when and how to harvest.

Fall gardening checklist


  • Collect seed and herbs for drying.
  • Add compost or manure to garden beds.
  • Cover water features with netting to collect falling leaves.
  • Check houseplants for pests, then start to move indoors.
  • Plant new trees and shrubs, to give them at least six weeks before frost.
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs.
  • Clean bird feeders, gardening tools.
  • Continue watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
  • Bring in any clay pots.
  • Pull weeds before they go to seed to reduce the number of weeds next year.
  • Fertilize your lawn.


  • Transplant shrubs or young trees to new locations.
  • Cut diseased areas out of perennials. Do not compost.
  • Rake and compost any fallen leaves.
  • Clean up garden debris. Remove all vegetable plants and fallen fruit.
  • Remove dead annuals from the garden, after a frost.
  • Cut back perennial foliage to discourage overwintering pests. Leave flowers with seeds for the birds.
  • Continue watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
  • Sharpen lawn mower blade and pruners.
  • Trim tall grass away from trees and corners of your home to discourage small rodents from creating nests.
  • Dig up tender bulbs such as dahlia, canna and gladiola. Wrap them in moist material and store in a cool, dark space.


  • Fertilize your lawn
  • Divide spring and summer blooming perennial plants.
  • Turn off outside water connections. Drain garden hoses.
  • Buy bulbs to force for winter.
  • Continue watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
  • Wrap screening around fruit tree trunks to protect from small animals.
  • Mulch rose bushes.
  • Clean fallen leaves in downspouts and gutters.


  • Start paperwhites and amaryllis for winter blooms.

Which vegetables to plant?

Quick harvest, cool loving fall crops are frost sensitive. Including:

  • radishes (maturing in as little as 18 to 21 days),
  • kohlrabi, (one of the favourites),
  • leaf lettuce, arugula, and spinach, (maturing around 55 days).

A frost blanket row cover can keep the plants 4-6 degrees F. warmer and greatly increases the length of your production. The frost tolerant brassica crops that can take some frost like:

  • kale,
  • Brussels sprouts, and
  • broccoli.

The frost sensitive root crops recommended are:

  • beets,
  • carrots,
  • turnips, and
  • parsnips.

If they are well covered with straw you can leave them in the ground until the soil starts to freeze, and they will become tastier. However don’t let them get frozen into the soil.

Frost resistant crops:

  • evergreen bunch onion,
  • garlic,
  • leeks, and
  • chives

Many gardeners recommend these risky frost crops; however, not very recommended for beginners, including:

  • bush beans,
  • sugar snap peas, and
  • cabbage.

Which flowers to plant?

Fall flowers that do quite well are:

  • mums,
  • solidago,
  • sage,
  • helinium, and
  • fall crocus.

When to plant?

Before the Fall Frost.
If you are from the USA, click on Plant Hardiness Zones, then enter your zip code, and click on the zone it provides. It will show you the date of the Average First Fall Frost. Count back from the Average First Fall Frost, the number of days needed for your crop to mature. It will be found on the seed package. This will give you an estimated planting date for that crop. These fall garden ideas are just an estimate; mother nature does not always follow the charts. Areas within a specific zone may be affected by buildings, trees, hills, lakes, etc. creating a micro climate. You can reduce the number of days needed by using a frost blanket, closures, covering plants with straw, or by purchasing vegetable transplant from your garden center.

Seeds vs. Transplants

For more variety and better bang for your buck, choose seed packets. If you are short on time and need to get your garden planted right away, choose transplants. A combination of the two also is an awesome idea. For fall vegetable growing, choose seeds for lettuce, spinach, kale, peas, carrots, radishes, and turnips. Transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, and tomatoes work best. Most seed packets will tell you how far away to sow the seeds, with 4-6 inches being a good rule of thumb except for plants that get quite large like broccoli and cauliflower which easily need 12 inches in all directions.

How to start?

Gardening in a bag, square foot gardening, and straw bale gardening are fall garden ideas that are easy, cost efficient, and productive ways for the beginning gardener to get started.

  • Bag gardening is when you plant your vegetables directly into the bags of soil you purchase from the store.
  • Straw bale gardening is a method where one takes a wheat or oat straw bale, tip it on edge, soak it with water, let it set for a week, make a depression in the bale, fill with potting soil, and plant. As the bale slowly decomposes the vegetables will grow into the decomposing bale.
  • Square foot gardening take a little more planning and cost but is well worth the effort. Build a small raised bed 4 feet by 4 feet by 6-12 inches deep and then fill it with quality organic matter. They yield four times as much produce compared with a traditional row garden.

Fall is a great time for beginning gardeners to get started. Fall gardens provide seeds with faster germination in the warm soil. It is very pleasant to work outside in the fall weather and the soil takes less water while many of the common insects are no longer around. Try these fall garden ideas and enjoy the cool loving crops that thrive in the pleasant fall weather. So if you are a new gardener it is time to get started with these great fall garden ideas.

How and When to harvest?

After you have planted your garden, and watered it every few days, you will see your plants grow and start producing edible leaves or setting out beautiful flowers or vegetables.

  • With leafy vegetables, harvest the leaves every week as this signals the plant to produce more.
  • With head vegetables, harvest the random stems that push up and then pick the head when it is at least six inches wide.
  • Cut flowers as you need them for your inside vase!

Further Reading:
• 10 FALL GARDEN CLEAN-UP TIPS by The Farmgirl Gabs
• 14 Fall Tips For A Better Spring Garden on ebay

Fall Garden Ideas Help Beginners by Home Gardening for Beginners
Fall Gardening Checklist by Landscape Ontario
• Fall Vegetable Gardening for Beginners by Premeditated Leftovers

look deep into nature, you'll understand everything | ecogreenlove


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