The hot days of summer have passed and Fall is upon us. The signs are all around with the brilliant colours on the trees, shorter days, and crisp mornings. Some of the nicest days in the garden are in September and October.  It is hard to believe another summer has past and winter is around the corner.  

Fall is the time to do a few things to protect your garden and prepare for the coming cold weather and snow.

To prepare for wintertime, here are some gardening tips for what to do once Fall arrives.


Perennials are plants that require the least amount of work in the garden.  Most of them only need to be cut back and mulched to protect them from the winter weather.  Native Niagara perennials are custom to our climate and are designed to come back from year to year with very little maintenance.  However, some perennials are more sensitive to the cold, so make sure to refer to the care instructions for your plants.


Frost is inevitable as the Fall season progresses. Placing large sheets of fabric over annuals can protect annuals against light frost and extend their blooms to be enjoyed well in the Fall.  Collect seeds and make a garden layout plan to remember your favourite plants to buy in the Spring.  After the killing frost, pull up the plants and compost.  3-4 inches of mulch over the bed before the snow comes, will replenish nutrients into the soil and prepare it for Spring planting.

Trees and Shrubs

In early Autumn, trees and shrubs can be planted. Make sure to water them if there isn’t much rainfall, and do it until the ground freezes.  Once the ground freezes, place a layer of mulch around the tree that is about 6 inches thick.  Young trees and shrubs should be fertilized for at least a year.  If trees are planted in a place that exposes them to heavy snowfall, especially drifting snow and blowing wind, stake them and cover them with burlap screen to offer extra protection. 


Vegetable gardens can continue to produce their bounty well into the Autumn months depending on what is planted. Draping a garden fabric sheet over beans and peppers will help ward off the damage from light frost.  Pumpkins, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions are ready to harvest in September and October which is just in time for Fall soups, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Root vegetables such as garlic, carrots, and beets should be safe from the light frost thanks to the protection of the surrounding earth. 

The availability food guide is a good reference to know when the yield is for Ontario vegetables and fruit. 

Other Fall gardening chores to prepare for the winter months ahead and Spring planting.

  • Clean up plant debris and compost
  • Chop of leaves to be used as a mulch
  • Repair fences and trellises
  • Clean up the toolshed
  • Build or repair raised garden beds.
  • Put away garden furniture, lights, etc.
  • Take a toolshed inventory to see if any pots, tools, mulch will be needed in the Spring (a good time to add some of these things to your Christmas wish list).