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Getting Ready for Fall

person raking leaves to get lawn and garden ready for fall

Five Recommendations to Prepare for Next Year

Putting the garden to bed in fall is the first step to a successful garden the following spring. Based on your personal goals, here are five recommendations to help prepare your garden for next year’s growing season:

  1. Make a record of the current planting sites within your garden to plan for crop rotation, which is key for preventing pests and diseases and builds soil fertility.
  2. Test your soil. The WVU Soil Laboratory can test the soil you send them and make recommendations on soil amendments for next year’s growing season.
  3. Remove all plant material from the garden. This includes old plants and weeds. Leftover materials can harbor diseases and other pests. You can add this to a compost pile if desired, but only if it’s disease-free. Do not add any plant material that have lesions or spots on the leaves.
  4. Consider planting a fall cover crop to till it under in the spring to add organic matter to the soil so all those beneficial microbes will have something to feed on.
  5. Cover the garden with a layer of mulch or decomposing leaves to protect the soil if a cover crop isn’t an option for you.

Three Fall Cleanup Tasks for Next Spring

Around the lawn, fall also makes a good time for some general cleanup and preparation for the following spring:
  1. Rake and remove leaves from around the base of trees. Leaving it could create an environment that invites disease, rotting due to increased moisture and wildlife that like to feed on trees and shrubs.
  2. Apply a light nitrogen fertilizer if you mow over your leaves in the yard to help them break down quicker.
  3. Inspect trees and shrubs for problems such as dead, diseased and damaged limbs once the leaves fall. Prune them off because they are a home for diseases and insects.

Adapted from materials from Mira Bulatovic-Danilovich, WVU Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist and Michael Shamblin, WVU Extension Ag and Natural Resources Agent – Clay County