Northern & Central Midwest
Leave Your Leaves
Vow to be a slow gardener this year and make use of plentiful leaves for natural mulch. They need to be removed from turf, but all other areas of the landscape will appreciate the leaves being left in place as organic mulch. Rake or blow leaves from the lawn into beds.
Start Pruning Only after Leaves Fall
Put off any pruning until leaves have dropped. This indicates deciduous plants are completely dormant. Shrubs that send up many shoots from the base can be renewal pruned at this time, saving having to do that work in the spring. Take out only about one-third of the largest branches at ground level.
Prepare Houseplants for their Return Indoors
Get tropicals and tender plants such as rosemary ready to come indoors for the winter. Hose them off, spray with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap, and soak the pot and soil for thirty minutes in a bucket of water to drown soil-borne insects. Let drain well and bring into a high light spot.
Leave Seedheads for Winter Interest
It may be tempting to cut back all perennials as soon as frost blackens the foliage, but leave some of the seedheads standing for winter interest and bird feeding. Plants in the aster/daisy family look lovely in winter snow, and it doesn't matter to the plants whether they are cut back in fall or spring.
Dispose of Diseased Plants
Clean up diseased leaves as soon as they fall, along with other garden debris. Dispose of diseased plants such as tomatoes with blight, peonies with fungus, and phlox with mildew by burying them or sending them to the city compost facility. Home compost piles are not hot enough to kill the disease organisms.