Treasure Those Leaves
Deciduous trees are losing their leaves with the arrival of cold weather. Remember that these leaves contain 50 to 75 percent of the nutrients the tree took up all season long. They are nature's own slow-release fertilizer so don't throw them away! Think "free compost" and "free mulch."
Add Cool-Season Color
After the first hard freeze clean out the remains of the warm-season flowers like marigolds and petunias. Work an inch or so of compost into the soil and set out cool-season flowers including pansies, violas, and ornamental kale and cabbage to keep the color into winter.
Put Perennial Flowers to Bed
Cut perennials back to a few inches above the soil line after a hard freeze kills the foliage. Then mulch the area well to deter winter weeds and protect the crown and roots from very cold weather. Marginally hardy perennials can often be protected through an otherwise killing winter season with a thick layer of mulch.
Move Plants Soon
If you need to move any plants around the landscape, now is the best time to do it. They lose a lot of roots in the digging process. By moving them now, they'll have the most time to regrow new ones before hot weather returns. Reset the plants promptly at the same depth they were growing, and water them in well.
Caring for Fruit Trees
Pick off and dispose of any shriveled fruit hanging on the tree or laying on the ground. These "mummies" are most likely diseased and can produce spores to infect next year's crop. Wait until late winter to do any significant pruning. Studies have shown that pruning fruit trees in the fall can cause them to bloom too early in the spring.