Flowers – Perennial gardens will benefit from general clean up and removal of dead leaf litter where insects or disease were a problem this summer. Incorporate compost or organic matter into soil as dividing and renovation activities go on.
Lawns – Winterize irrigation system before a hard freeze.
Vegetables and Fruit – Clean up withered leaf tissue to minimize disease pathogens and insect problems next year.
Pesky Bugs – If box elder bugs, beetles and ants have been a problem in the home this summer, plan on caulking cracks around windows, doors and sealing foundations.
Planting – Plant bare root, balled and burlapped, balled and potted, and container-grown deciduous and narrowleaf evergreen ornamental plants. Bare root plants should be dormant.
Transplanting – Dig plants that were root pruned in the spring. Deciduous plants may be moved bare root, but narrowleaf evergreens should be moved balled and burlapped or balled and potted. Plants that are to be transplanted in the spring should be root pruned now.
Pruning – Head back herbaceous perennial stems after the tops die.
Fertilizing – Fall is the best time to broadcast fertilizer around ornamental landscape plants. Roots are actively growing and absorbing nutrients to support spring growth.
Watering – Irrigate newly planted ornamentals any time there is less than 1 inch of weekly rainfall and plants are actively growing. Apply water at the rate or 1 quart per square foot of planting area on poorly drained soils. On well-drained soils, use a half-gallon of water per square foot. Be sure to maintain adequate soil moisture this month to aid good root growth prior to winter dormancy.
Plant protection—For newly planted ornamentals, you may apply a pre-emergence herbicide before spreading a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil in the bed or around trees. Rodent tree trunk guards, mulch, rose cones and fabric wind screens should be put in place around evergreens before the average daily temperatures are below freezing.
Source: Rebecca Finneran – MSU Extension & Bulletin E-1947