How to Transition Your Garden from Summer to Fall

When people hear the word “garden,” many think of a lush, green patch in the heat of summer. Truth be told, gardens are a year-long thing. It will just look different with each season. Several simple steps can be taken to prepare your garden for fall and winter.

As soon as the heat dies down and the days become shorter, it’s easy to spend less time in your garden. But the fall really is a great time to prepare for the months ahead and you can still see great results in your garden through the fall months.


Clear out all of your annuals.

Annuals are only good for one growing season. They’ve had their moment in the sun, so to say, and once they’ve lost their luster, they won’t be back. Clear them out of your garden in order to make room for new plants.

Autumn Joy Sedum bush, purple coneflowers and yellow daisies are excellent fall flowers that will add a mix of color to your garden. 

Clear out weeds and debris

It’s important to keep weeding throughout the fall months. Soon no more growing will take place so it’s best to clear out all the weeds now. Now is a good time to get rid or dead or diseased plants, too.

The fall months is also a good time to get your entire yard cleaned up before the winter and any snow hits. A weed eater will help you prepare your lawn for the months to come.

While you want to clear out weeds and other debris from your garden during the fall, make sure to leave some leaves. They’ll provide some added nutrients to the soil in your garden and help prepare it for the next growing season.

You can definitely add some new mulch to help beef up your garden. Adding mulch in the fall, before winter hits, will also help insulate your garden for the cold months ahead. Mulch also helps deter weeds. Come spring, your garden will be ready for another planting season.

Fall mums planted with plenty of mulch to keep them well-insulated through the fall months. 


Fall is an ideal time to plant any trees or shrubs you want. The soil will still be warm enough for the roots to dig in and get established. Once planted, they’ll have several weeks to acclimate before the winter months and cold really hit.

Fall is also a good time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, irises and tulips. They should be planted well before the first frost. Pick a sunny spot and dig a hol about two times deeper than the bulb is tall. Plant with the pointed end facing up. Remember to check the directions in the package as each flower and bulb is different.

At this time you should also dig up your summer flowering bulbs, such as dahlias and gladiolus. Once you locate and dig them up, store them in containers full of dry, fresh soil. Make sure to layer them in containers so they don’t touch. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry room, such as in a basement or garage.

If you’re in an area that experiences several good fall months, you can find beautiful plants that will adorn your garden with gorgeous colors. There are an assortment of cool weather flowers that will thrive in the fall months and add some unexpected color to your garden. Who says that only the summer should be filled with beautiful flowers?

Different colored fall mums, plumed cockscomb and silver mound add color to a fall garden.

Here’s a list of some great fall plants:

  • Aster
  • Celosia (cock’s comb)
  • Coneflower
  • Croton
  • Goldenrod
  • Pansies
  • Purple Fountain Grass
  • Sedum
  • Sunflower

You can’t forget about fall mums. Chrysanthemums are maybe the most recognizable fall flower. While mums can be planted any season, if you want to plant mums as perennials, it’s best to do it in the spring months so they have time to take root. If you’re focusing on your fall garden, it might just be best to treat your mums as an annual and enjoy their warm, rich colors for a few months.

If you’re planning to plant your fall mums in your garden, make sure to do it as soon as you can. Plant them somewhere where they will receive plenty of sun and make sure to water them well. In order to protect them from the colder months, cover with plenty of mulch.

Depending on how severe your region’s winter is, your mums may be there come spring. If they don’t make it through the winter, you can try again with a new assortment of colors in the spring and enjoy them for several seasons!

It’s also absolutely fine if you choose to keep your mums in containers for the fall months. They would look great sitting near your garden or on your front steps or back porch. The whole point is to enjoy the bright yellow, vibrant rust and purple colors!

Fall mums come in a variety of colors and look great either planted or kept in containers. 

This great variety will offer many different colors and textures to your garden! They might not be around as long as spring and summer flowers, but they’ll sure add some unexpected beauty and color to the often gray fall days!

If you’d like to plant some vegetables, there are several that actually grow well in cooler weather. Leafy vegetables like kale, cabbage and lettuce don’t have a very long growing season, making them ideal vegetables to grow during the fall months. It’s best to plant these in August and harvest come fall.

Switch Around

Any potted plants, such as herbs, can and should be moved indoors, especially once the temperature starts dropping below 50 degrees at night. This way, you can enjoy herbs all year long!

Since you’re taking your plants out of one environment into another, it’s important to give them a little TLC to adjust. Make sure your plants get plenty of sunlight while inside. If your region is going to be dealing with many dark days come winter, you may want to invest in a grow light.

The fall time is also a good time to divide perennials. That way you can share with friends and neighbors and divining them will actually help recharge the plants so they’ll be ready to go next growing season.

It’s true that summer’s over, but don’t give up on your garden!  By following these steps, you’ll be able to enjoy your garden through the fall months and prepare it for the winter months. Come spring, you’ll be ready for another successful growing season!