All summer long, you’ve enjoyed watching your beautiful garden blossom and grow. The flowers you planted in the spring germinated and produced gorgeous colors that seemed to light up your flower bed, and the big trees around your home have provided you with much needed shade on your deck or by the pool. Your vegetable garden left you with so much produce you had to give some away to neighbors and coworkers.
But now fall is here, and before you know it, the leaves on the trees will cover the ground and your flowers will start to lose their petals and go dormant for the winter. You’ve enjoyed your garden all summer long and taken good care of it. Now it’s time to help it shut down for the fall.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or prefer to keep a few flower beds in bloom, there’s a lot you can do to help your garden prepare for winter, but it’s not always about your plants. With these fall gardening tips, you’ll also protect your home from pests looking to make the fall crawl.
Winter can be a brutal season, so help your garden and home prepare with these fall gardening tips.
How a well-maintained garden helps prevent the fall crawl
You may have heard the term “fall crawl” before, especially if you read this blog often. In green pest control, the fall crawl refers to the time of year when insects, rodents and other pests start looking for a warmer home when the temperature begins to drop. Most pests look for a place that offers a combination of warmth, protection and good access to food.
Your home is often seen as the best combination of all three of those needs. Even down in your basement, the temperature is warmer than it will be outside. Pests may also be able to make their own ways in and out of your home without you knowing it at all. Some, like roof rats, find their way in by climbing trees with branches that hang over your roof. Others, like ants, might dig a tunnel under your wooden deck.
Many of these potential inroads to your home are difficult to spot in passing. If you’re not paying attention to your garden in the fall or looking for keys signs of pest migrations, then you could discover a nasty infestation in the middle or winter — or even worse in the springtime.
When you’re watchful over your garden and get it prepared for fall properly, you lessen your chances of an infestation, and you can spot potential problem areas before they become a full-on problem.
Need some help? Here’s our best fall gardening tips to keep your garden thriving next year and prevent the fall crawl this year.
Clean up your garden
The first step to getting your garden ready for fall and later winter is to start cleaning up around all sides of your garden.
First, go through your garden and flower beds and remove any dead plants that won’t regrow next year. Remove plants that have died over the course of the year and will not regrow, even if they otherwise would. Prune your bushes to get rid of twigs and, of course, be on the lookout for weeds and other invasive plants. Those should be taken care of right away.
You may have some plants or bulbs that cannot stay outside during the wintertime. It’s time to bring them inside. If they’re in flower pots, bring them into your three-season porch or even into your kitchen. If they’re planted in your garden, grab a pot from your local hardware store and replant them so they can brought inside. Doing this will protect plants that would die in a frost, and it saves you the trouble of replacing them next week.
Once the plants are taken care of, it’s time to go through your flower beds and garden again and remove dead plant matter and debris. If you’ve read other posts on our blog, then you know that rats and other pests like to make their homes and nests in piles of old newspapers and fabrics. Leaf piles can also make good nests for rats, and they over good cover from your eyes as well. Don’t let the pests get the chance to move in. Remove the plant matter now and don’t risk an infestation later.
Want to really make use of the plant matter and leaves in your garden? Start a compost bin. Over the winter, that plant matter will break down with other organic materials you throw inside, and in the springtime, you can use the nutrient-rich soil to help your plants grow healthy and strong. You send less material to rot in a landfill, and your garden benefits from the soil.
Bring your patio and deck furniture inside
When you bought your patio or pool-side furniture, you probably assumed it could withstand just about any weather. After all, that heavy aluminum is made to sit outside for months at a time.
While it’s true that some furniture probably could withstand being left outside all winter in Houston, doing so will likely decrease the furniture’s lifespan. You may have to replace it sooner than you otherwise would.
Rather than replace, it’s time to take the outdoor furniture inside. Don’t forget to take:
- Lawn chairs
- Patio tables and chairs
- Grills and smokers
- Side and accent tables
- Fountains and concrete garden decor
Detach your cushions from the lawn chairs and store them inside somewhere safe. You might keep them in the basement or a closet until next year. For furniture, take apart the tables and chairs if you need to make them fit in smaller places such as a shed or garage. Extra space in an attic, crawlspace or basement will also store outdoor furniture as well — and that’s a good time to inspect those places and look for potential infestation sites. You should also check and see if an infestation is actually happening now as well — just in case.
Plant some fall plants
Just because the seasons are changing and the plants are going dormant doesn’t mean your home can still be bright and blooming. In fact, a lot of plants bloom in the fall, and some even prefer the cooler weather.
Fall is one of the better times to replant any trees or shrubs around your yard. If you move them now as they’re dormant, they will not experience transplant shock, which can happen when plants move from one environment to another. Some are able to make the move without any issues, but others will experience transplant shock and may die. If you move them in the fall when they’re dormant, you’ll save more of your trees and shrubs.
Now it’s time to start brightening up your garden. Here are a few options:
- Chrysanthemums: A favorite fall plant, hearty mums come in bright shades of yellow, purple, red and orange, and they almost perfectly match the changing leaves. Mums don’t need much help to thrive, but they do need to be replanted every year.
- Kale: Who would’ve thought that this favorite leafy vegetable also makes for beautiful greenery. Unlike lettuce or cabbage, kale has a deep green color that stands out against the darkness of mulch or white or light-colored home. And if you have too much of it, then you can always harvest some of it for winter and fall salad.
- Asters: Asters look like daisies, but with far more petals. They also come in bright purples and other dramatic colors, and they usually bloom in the late summer and fall.
Like any other plant, these fall plants will require care and maintenance, so if you’d rather wind down in your gardening, then it’s best to avoid planting too many of these flowers. It’ll only increase the amount of work and upkeep you’ll have to do.
On of the smartest fall gardening tips: Read the label on the plant at the home and garden center before you buy. You need to be aware of how big a plant is going to get and how much sunlight and water it needs. If the area you want to plant it in is too shady, then your new plant will wither and die.You may also want to fill space in your garden, so make sure you pick plants that will grow and take up space. You might want to fill in spaces between bushes, but if you choose plants that stay small, you’re going to have some odd looking holes.
Inspect for potential pest infestations
As you’re moving around your garden, you should be on the lookout for telltale signs that an infestation may be happening or that conditions are ideal for an infestation to take hold.
First, look around for piles of wood or sticks that may be near your home and move them at least three feet away from your house. Termites and ants love to hang out in wood piles, and if it’s near your home, then it won’t be hard for them to find their way into your home. Keep the wood piles away from your home so you don’t lead them to your front door.
Next, rake your leaves and then dispose of them. Do not leave them in piles. Ants and other pests like to live in leaf piles because they provide a little bit of cover and warmth. If you let an ant colony grow in a leaf pile — even if it’s not too close to your home — you may risk a future infestation when the ant colony breaks apart into two colonies and continues to expand. The city of Houston will collect your leaves in compost bags, but you can also add the leaves to your own compost bin. When the leaves break down into nutrient-rich soil, you’ll have it ready to go for next year’s planting season.
Finally, monitor the perimeter of your home and check under your deck for any signs of nests or colonies that could be taking shape. Some pests start outside and then work their way in by making tunnels into your basement. If you think a cockroach or ant colony may be taking shape, it’s best to call in a green pest control expert right away.
This is one of the best fall gardening tips you can follow, so don’t neglect this important step.
Once you’ve finished with the gardening and cleanup, it’s time to add a little decor back to your home. You don’t have to go all-out with fall decor — especially if your home is particularly known for its Halloween decorations — but if you want to add color and detail to your yard without having to maintain new plants and flowers, a little decor can fill in the gap.
Now we’ve covered fall decor in other posts, but here are some of our all-time favorite ideas for fall decor:
- Pumpkin and hay displays: You can usually pick up a decorative barrel of hay from a hardware or home and garden store. Place it next to your front door and place your pumpkins on top and in front of it. You can use decorative pumpkins and squash and then add jack-o-lanterns when your children carve them for Halloween.
- Fall wreaths: You can make your own fall wreath using twigs and sticks from your own backyard. Weave in some festive ribbons and add a few small decorative pieces such as plush scarecrows or any painted wooden blocks you can find at a craft store. Hang it on your door and admire.
- Layer with pumpkins: Pumpkins and other gourds come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Choose a section on your front porch or step and layer a few different pumpkins together of all different varieties. The layered look is fun and different every year.
Tell us: What are your favorite fall gardening tips and decor ideas? We want to hear them, so share with us in the comments and let us know how our green pest control can keep the fall crawl at bay around your home.