Based on averages, most of us expect our first frost in October. But even as air temperatures take a nosedive, the ground retains summer’s heat for a while. There are things we can do to prepare for winter as well as next spring and summer.
Collect fallen leaves and shred them. If you don’t have or can’t borrow a shredder, run leaves over with a lawnmower.
Divide and transplant spring-blooming perennials such as iris (Iris spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) and peonies (Paeonia spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8). Make sure peonies bloom in their new areas by burying their growing “eyes” no more than an inch below the surface.
Keep weeding. Don’t give perennial weeds the opportunity to overwinter.
Cut down or pull annuals melted by frost. Dig up dahlias (Dahlia spp. and cvs., Zones 7–10) and other tender summer tubers and bulbs a week or two after the frost, and store them in a cool, dark place.
Plant daffodils (Narcissus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) and other spring/summer bulbs. Dig down two to three times as deep as the bulb is tall, and plant them pointy end up. If the weather is warm, hold off planting tulips.
Kristin Green is author of Plantiful: Start Small, Grow Big with 150 Plants that Spread, Self-sow, and Overwinter. She gardens in Bristol, Rhode Island.
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