6 More Fall Gardening Mistakes to Avoid

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Last year we brought you the “6 Most Common Fall Gardening Mistakes to Avoid,” and this year, based on feedback and research, we’re adding to the list!

Fall is a great time to take care of your garden. You prepare the lawn and fix the plants. It is easy to tell gardeners what to do, but it takes mistakes, on the part of the gardener, to figure out what not to do.

Most fall gardening mistakes we make happen because we aren’t exactly sure about what must be done, what can be done, or what shouldn’t be done. Each season there are certain tasks that “should” be done. The tasks that you complete in spring are different from the ones that need to be completed in fall.

6 More Fall Gardening Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #1 – Fertilizing Plants

Remember how you added fertilizer in the spring and the flowers and lawn perked right up? If you fertilize your trees, shrubs or other plants during the late summer, you are telling them to grow.

Fertilizing in the fall sends the wrong message. In areas that have cold weather, plants are susceptible to freeze-damage. This will not show up until spring. The best advice is not to fertilize plants in the fall.  Let them run their natural cycle and fertilize in the spring.

Mistake #2 – Not Fertilizing Your Lawn

Wait a second, didn’t we just tell you not to fertilize? Yes, don’t fertilize plants, trees, or shrubs. But DO fertilizer your lawn.

You need to fertilize the lawn to prepare it for next spring. You are not making the lawn grow, rather you are building up the grass roots.

Nitrogen needs to be lowered on the lawn fertilizer – use an NPK of 6-2-4. Also do not cut your lawn too low. Keep it on a high blade so that your lawn will be protected over the winter.

Mistake #3 – Staking Young Trees

Did you plant a tree during the spring? It looks so frail on its thin little trunk and you want to protect it. Some people think that staking it – putting stakes in the ground and holding the tree securely with ropes – will help it survive winter.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The trees need to build up their root system and develop trunks to make them strong. When the tree is unstaked in spring, it is vulnerable to wind and rain. This helps the tree develop.

Let your tree grow naturally. Staking makes it weak and you may end up treeless.

FRESH TIP – Good Garden Gloves are Must for Fall Chores

Gardening can be tough on your hands, fall chores can be even tougher! Digz Gardening Gloves help keep your hands safe while your are working in the soil, trimming roses, raking, or simply clearing away debris.

At Rural Mom, we love Digz for their durability, but also for their price. Several styles are less than $5 a pair at Home Depot, making it easy on your budget to invest in a few new pairs for every chore. We normally stock up on Digz each year and this year, it’s great to have a few sent over from the Digz team – sure brightened up our gall garden chore time!

Digz gloves are available in a variety of colors and hand-drawn patterns and also have touchscreen-compatible fingertips in case you need to snap a pic in the flower beds.

6 More Fall Gardening Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #4 – Tilling

The weather changes in fall. Rains come. The weather then turns warm and you want to go out and finish up a few more things before winter. Many people think that they are doing the ground a favor by tilling. After all, it is good to till the soil. It aerates it and allows the roots to breathe.

Unfortunately, working with wet soil compacts it and air and water cannot penetrate it. In spring when you look at your garden and you see clods of dirt. They are so difficult to break up.

Tilling is also known to cause excessive soil erosion. Consider having a no-till garden year ’round to enrich your soil. You can learn about soil health at https://kisstheground.com/ – you’ll find plenty of free resources and plans to get started.

Mistake #5 – Walking on Your Garden Beds

Avoid walking on your garden beds while working on them as much as possible. It packs down the earth and the compaction does not allow the roots to develop.

Placing a wooden plank on the ground will help avoid creating compacted soil. Alternatively, you can designate a track of soil through your garden that you do use as a walkway to help minimize the damage.

Mistake #6 – Not Cleaning Your Garden Tools

When fall garden chores are done, it’s easy to put up your tools and forget about them until spring. This is one of the biggest fall gardening mistakes. By not cleaning and storing your garden tools properly, you are diminishing their usefulness. You’ll also have to replace them more often as they will not last as long as well-maintained tools.

Get started with our guide to cleaning and storing your garden tools here: http://www.ruralmom.com/2020/01/how-to-care-for-garden-tools-in-the-winter.html

Recognizing and addressing these few mistakes will give you a garden you will love and enjoy throughout every season!


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Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an author and sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky. When she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s writing about country living and artisan culture.
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