How to close down the garden

clean upIt’s autumn, and it’s getting cold.   Plants are changing…some dying…some turning beautiful colors and dropping.  Asters and mums are at their peak.  What do you do to prepare for the next season, beloved restful winter?

dahlias after a frost
dahlias after a frost

An easy list to do over the cooler days of fall.  After the first frost, some plants that are extremely tender, will perish.

  • Gather any seeds you wish to keep for next year (for me this includes cleome, cosmos, coneflower).
  • Remove annuals that didn’t make the frost (this can change from point to point in your garden, depending on microclimates).
  • Remove all tomato and pepper plants (These should not be composted).
  • Remove any diseased plant matter and toss.  This is anything that has a wilt look to it, powdery mildew, or black spot on it  (Do not compost).  Full list of problems at University of Illinois, Extension.
  • Cut peonies down to the ground.  Leave roots in ground.
  • Cut back dahlia, caladium, elephant ears, glads, and any other tender bulb/tuber.  Dig up the roots and store in newspaper in a paper bag in your basement or someplace cool and dark that won’t freeze.  In spring, these can all be planted again.

clean up

Things to keep after the frost.

  • Kale and chard can take the frost, and actually improve in flavor.
  • Snap dragons, pansy, asters, mums will all like the cooler weather.  It’s their favorite time.
  • Leave grasses and seeded plants like coneflower for birds to eat and play in and for some added winter interest for you to look at when the ground is snowy white.
  • Parsley, oregano, and sage seem to not mind the cold either, all should come back next spring.

Planning for next year.

  • Take cuttings of rosemary, fuchsia, coleus.  These will root in water and can be planted inside through the winter and finally transplanted outdoors in the spring.
  • Plant garlic, tulips, crocus, and daffodil bulbs.


Cherish each season in your garden.  The fall, a time to gather and and slow down.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *