Fall is a great time to fix or make special garden structures such as fences, gates, arbors, gazebos, paths, beds, terraces, walls, edgings, or cold frames. Spring is always so hectic, so now is actually a better time to work on garden construction projects. Plus with the plants gone, you can fit your creation into the perfect spot in the garden.
Protect Young Trees
Young and newly planted trees are often girdled (the bark is gnawed off around the tree trunk) by rabbits and mice during the winter. If severe, girdling can kill a tree. To prevent this, loosely surround the lower 2 or 3 feet of trunk with chicken wire or hardware cloth. To prevent damage to the trunk from winter freezing and thawing, apply paper tree-wrap.
A week or so after the first sharp frost is the best time to harvest dahlias. The tubers aren't reliably hardy if left in the ground, so they need to be dug and stored. First cut off the tops about 1 inch above the ground. Then dig up the root ball at about a foot from the stalk, so as not to damage the tubers. Set the clump in the sun for a few hours, then store for the winter in a dry place that stays around 40F to 50F.
Decorating Flower Boxes
Remove the dead plants from flower and window boxes. If the boxes remain in place, fill them with evergreens so they'll be attractive during the winter. Consider branches of pine, arborvitae, spruce, yew, bayberry, and rhododendron. Any branches with berries such as barberry, viburnum, and holly are attractive, too.
Certainly you'll want to start 'Paperwhite' narcissus for the upcoming holidays, but why not try something different. Freesias are small bulbs that produce a flower that has a wonderful scent. Put 6 to 8 corms in a 6-inch pot. Place in a cool, well-lighted room and keep evenly watered. They'll bloom in 10 to 12 weeks.