As the days grow shorter and the air cools down, your summer blooms may be having their last hurrah. Fortunately, there are a number of plants that thrive in cool weather, from crisp fall greens to flavorful roots, and warm-toned florals. Of course, you can plant all three for the perfect fall garden!
If you’re ready to make the change and your garden is in need of a little TLC, you’ll find all you need below to transition your summer oasis into the fall garden of your dreams.
When to Transition to a Fall Garden
Though a cool breeze may make its way into your garden in the evening, the warm days are still here. So, when is the best time to transition your garden from summer to fall? Fortunately, the answer is quite simple: you should begin the transition after the first frost. Summer annuals dying off is another obvious sign it’s time to switch things up.
Pro Tip: Pay attention to the weather forecast to avoid preparing your fall garden too early! It’s usually best to begin this transition around the end of September, though this can change depending on your location. Just keep an eye out because fall sneaks up on all of us!
Tools You’ll Need
Once you’ve decided it’s time to transition to a fall garden, there are a few different tools you’ll need. Fortunately, many gardeners will likely already have them in their collection. Find all the essentials listed below.
- Gardening gloves
- Spade or hand trowel
- Garden fork
- Garden hoe
- Compost or collection bin
- Fresh soil
- Fall plants
- Watering can or hose
Transitioning Your Summer Garden to a Fall Garden
Step 1: Clear Out the Old Garden
Clearing out the old garden is the first step in a seamless transition. Remove all of the spent crops, including bolting veggies and dead annuals. Also, harvest the mature fruits and veggies from plants that are nearing the end of their lifecycle. You should also deadhead and cut back any spent perennials.
A pair of gardening gloves, a spade, and a garden fork will make removing roots and dead plants easier.
You can place any old plants in your compost bin, but keep a careful eye out for diseases and pests. If you notice any signs of sickness on your plants, it’s best to throw them away and keep them out of your compost.
Pro Tip: Collect the seeds from healthy plants so you can replant them next year!
Step 2: Prepare the Garden Beds
Before you begin planting fresh fall plants, it’s important to properly prepare your garden beds and pots. Start by testing the soil pH to determine which nutrients are lacking. You can then replenish the soil with compost or fertilizer. This will ensure that your fall plants have enough nutrients to thrive all season.
Step 3: Choose Your Plants
Now that the garden is clear and prepared, you can replace your summer annuals with fall-loving plants. You can plant beautiful flowers and veggies, or both depending on your preference!
In general, you’ll find that cool weather-loving, short-season crops will be top picks for the fall season. You should opt for cold-hardy flowers such as garden chrysanthemums and snapdragons, leafy greens like spinach and lettuce, and root crops including carrots and radishes.
Fall is also the ideal time to divide your spring-blooming perennial plants. The soil is still warm enough for transplanting, which means your perennials will have time to establish roots and acclimate to their new spot in your yard. The same rings true for planting trees and shrubs!
Step 4: Maintain
When it comes to caring for your fall garden, the rules are similar to summer upkeep. First of all, you should keep the soil moist to help new transplants and seedlings develop strong and healthy root systems. You should also keep weeds under control since they can steal nutrients your plants need to thrive and take over the garden.
Pro Tip: A layer of mulch will prevent weeds while providing the plants with insulation to help them survive the frost. Plus, it will help the garden maintain its moisture levels, which will protect the plants from drying out too quickly.
Out With the Old, In With the New!
While the summer may be over, fall gardening has only just begun! And fortunately, there are only a few simple steps required to get your fall garden growing. Prep your garden beds by removing old summer annuals and spent veggies and refreshing the soil. Next, replant those fall favorites, and maintain your garden!
Do you have any tips for transitioning to a fall garden? Share in the comments below!