Leave some leaves. Give yourself a break on (some) fall clean up. Stripping the garden bare is not good for the soil. Some plant (clean, not diseased) material left in place helps to hold the soil. A mulch of shredded leaves (from your lawn mowing, for example) will prevent soil erosion in beds.
Let your house plants rest.
Stop fertilizing houseplants until next February – unless you keep them under lights. With late autumn and winter’s lower light levels, houseplants enter a resting phase. It will also help your houseplants if you keep your home on the cooler side (or place plants in a cooler room) and keep your houseplant’s leaves clean.
Did you plant strawberries this year?
To protect them against winter damage, cover strawberry beds with a straw, pine needles or other loose, coarse material. Do not use tree leaves which will pack down.
Rose care. Now that your roses have blooms their last for this season, make certain they have a safe winter. Cut back long canes on roses to prevent damage from wind whipping them. Protect the remaining canes with a wire cage filled with leaves. Your roses will thank you next spring!
Clean and sharpen your tools.
Most outdoor work is finished for the season so spend some time winterizing your tools. Tools left in garages or garden sheds over the winter may rust due to high humidity. Cleaning them thoroughly now and then sharpen (pruners, saws, some shovels and so forth) and lightly oil metal surfaces—they will be ready for work in the spring.
Sow some seeds now.
Some flower seeds need a winter outside to germinate. Sow seeds of calendulas, cosmos, cleomes and snapdragons outside. If you garden to attract birds and butterflies, also sow Asclepias (butterfly weed – shown at right) and milkweed seed now.
Thanksgiving for your garden. As you prepare for Thanksgiving and winter, remember wildlife needs a place to winter also. Dead flower stalks that have seeds (like the rudbeckia pictured at right) are natural birdfeeders, leaving them in place provides food. If you have room on your property, a brush pile gives birds shelter from both severe weather and predators.
Tick season isn't over. Are you aware adult ticks have a second peak season in the fall? In New England, adult ticks have re-emerged in force, and will be active for at least another month. This autumn season lasts until the ground is covered in snow. Be sure to check yourself and all your family members for ticks!