Autumn garden chores lead to a summer payoff


Cut back perennials.
Cut back herbaceous perennials, such as catmint, to just above new growth at the base. 

For woody perennials, make cuts as shown at left.

If perennials such as daylilies have become crowded, dig each clump with a spading fork so the rootball comes up intact, then use a spade or sharp knife to divide them (each division should have plenty of leaves and roots).

Replant divisions immediately.

In cold-winter climates, divide plants by mid-October.

Cut back bulb foliage.
After the foliage on dahlias and other summer bulbs dies, shorten stems almost to the base.

In mild climates, dahlia tubers can overwinter in the ground.

In cold climates, dig and store them in a frost-free place until planting time in spring.

Pull weeds.
Pull kinds such as crabgrass. Discard those with seed heads and compost the rest.

Remove soaker hoses.
Lay them flat on the pavement, cap the ends, then flush them clean with water. Coil and store them for winter.

Add mulch.
Apply a 6-inch-deep layer of compost to the soil surface around plants.


Prune roses.
In mild-winter climates, remove dead, old or crossing canes.  Cut back remaining canes by one-third to one-half, making cuts at a 45° angle.

In cold-winter areas, it’s safer to wait until April.


Begin fertilizing.
After new growth appears, broadcast granular flower food such as a 6-2-5 formulation; water it in with a dilute fish emulsion from a hose-end sprayer.

In mild climates, put down soaker hoses.