The end of warm weather doesn’t mean the end of gardening. You still need to put your garden to bed for the winter so it will be in great shape when the spring returns.

There are four main parts to preparing your garden for the cold weather: cutting back, cleaning up, planting, and protecting. Let’s look at each in more detail.

Cutting Back

  1. You should cut back all of your perennials in the fall, except for mums. They do better if they remain standing.
  2. Wait until a frost has caused the plants to die. Cutting back before a frost could new growth that will be hit again when the frost finally arrives.
  3. Don’t prune woody plants, trees, or shrubs until they are dormant.
  4. Leave some plants for birds.

Cleaning Up

  1. Pull dead or declining annuals. They won’t come back next year.
  2. Harvest everything above ground in the vegetable garden and under fruit trees. Don’t leave fruits and vegetables out all winter to rot.
  3. Clean up overgrown areas, to prevent animals and pests moving in and to make it easier in the spring. Don’t forget your tools and containers. Don’t wait until the spring.
    • Empty, clean, and disinfect containers. Spray them with a bleach cleaner.
    • Clean and store stakes, cages and garden ornaments. They’ll last longer if they are protected from winter weather.
    • Clean and sharpen tools before you store them. Remove caked-on soil, sharpen edges with a file and finish them with a light coating of oil. Don’t forget to clean and sharpen your pruners.


  1. Get flowering bulbs, garlic and rhubarb in the ground, before it freezes.
  2. If your plants are still looking good, pot some up to bring indoors, including herbs.
  3. Plant a cover crop.
  4. Fall is a great time for planting trees and shrubs because they can put all their energy into their roots. Make sure these roots get water.
  5. Don’t forget to water your perennials during dry falls. They may be going dormant, but they’re not dead.


  1. Shield plants animals might eat. Put fencing around shrubs. Use tree guards for trees
  2. Make sure all tender bulbs are stored for the winter. Most like to be hit by a frost, before you dig and dry them.
  3. Mound soil or mulch around the base of roses. Remember to remove it in the spring.

Do you need help getting your garden put to bed for the winter? Call Hufnagel Landscape Design and Construction today at 201-869-5680 to get started.