Our picks for the very best bulbs, greens, trees, and more to set out now for a vibrant garden come spring.

Spring Bulbs Palette Daffodils
Photo courtesy Emma Dixon

Tempting as it may be to buy plants in spring when they’re looking full and luscious, the pros know that if you want to achieve your spring garden goals, fall planting is crucial. Autumn is the ideal time for getting most ornamentals and cool-season edibles into the ground: Once summer’s peak heat is behind us, the soil remains warm, and in many regions the following few months could bring merciful soaking winter rains. This can lead to deep root growth for all kinds of plants that will later reach their prime in spring, if not before. Here are our top picks, including some surprises—plus tips for planting them.