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Spring's Early Birds: The Secrets of Fall Garden Preparation

Fall leaves on the ground

As the leaves begin to fall and the garden takes on an autumnal charm, it's the perfect time to set the stage for a glorious spring garden. While it might seem counterintuitive to plan for spring when fall is just beginning, the steps you take now can make a world of difference when the snow melts and the first blooms of spring emerge. Below are 10 things to start thinking about.

1. Clean Up and Clear Out

Before diving into fall-to-spring garden preparation, start with a thorough cleanup. Remove any dead or decaying plant material, perennial weeds, and fallen leaves. A clean garden is less likely to harbor diseases and pests over the winter and will help with plant growth. 

2. Divide and Conquer

If you have perennials that have outgrown their space, fall is an ideal time to divide them. Carefully lift and separate clumps, and then replant the divisions in other areas of your garden. You want to make sure to be gentle to not hurt the roots. 

3. Soil Enrichment

Enriching your soil in the fall pays off come spring. Add compost or well-rotted manure to your garden beds. Work it into the soil to improve its structure, enhance nutrient content, and ensure a fertile environment for spring planting. You can also consider creating your own soil by combining compost, manure, sand, and top soil. I found a short YouTube video that explains this well. 

4. Plan for Spring Bulbs

Now is the time to plan your spring vegetable garden. Choose a variety of veggies like peas, carrots, and spinach. Determine where you want them to grow, and prepare the soil for optimal nutrition. Consider companion planting and crop rotation strategies to maximize your spring vegetable yield.

5. Pruning and Cutting Back

While many plants thrive in the fall, others need some pruning. Trim back any dead or overgrown branches from trees, shrubs, and vines. Cutting back perennials is also a good idea to promote new growth in the spring. You can check out this article I read to learn more about pruning.

6. Protecting Vulnerable Plants

Some plants, especially more delicate varieties, may need extra protection during the winter. Constructing windbreaks or using burlap to shield them can prevent winter damage. Potted plants should be brought inside or placed in a sheltered location.

7. Plan Your Spring Garden Layout

Take time to plan your spring garden layout. Consider what fruits, herbs, or vegetables you want to grow. Think about companion planting and how to maximize your garden's potential.

8. Pest and Disease Control

Fall is a great time for pest and disease control. Remove any diseased plant material from your garden to prevent overwintering pathogens. Apply dormant oil sprays or Diatomaceous Earth to control insects. This proactive approach can lead to a healthier garden come spring. 

9. Learn from the Past

Reflect on your garden's performance during the past year. What worked well, and what didn't? Use this insight to make informed decisions for your spring garden.

10. Document Your Garden

Consider keeping a garden journal or taking photos of your garden in the fall. This documentation allows you to track your garden's evolution and plan improvements for the future.


Preparing your garden during the fall for the upcoming spring is an investment in the beauty and productivity of your outdoor space. With thoughtful planning, proper maintenance, and a vision for the future, your garden can be a breathtaking sight when the first signs of spring emerge. So, as you revel in the colors of fall, remember that the canvas you create now will paint the picture of a vibrant, blooming spring in the months to come.


Happy Gardening!