November Gardening Checklist



  • LAWNS―Fertilize tall fescue and other cool-season lawns with a lawn fertilizer, such as 30-2-4 or 29-3-4, that contains timed-release nitrogen to prevent burn. It will continuously feed your lawn until time for a spring feeding. Spray wild onions with appropriate herbicides.
  • Cleaning up the garden will yield plenty of fallen leaves and plant debris for compost. In an out-of-the-way corner of the garden, mix green and dry materials with a shovel of soil. Sprinkle with water weekly if there is no rain. You’ll have compost by spring, sooner if you turn the pile.
  • PLANT—Begin planting shrubbery and mulch shrubbery with fresh composted leaves. Plant spring flowering bulbs: tulips, hyacinths, daffodil, and crocus.
  • Begin forcing bulbs for early winter indoor color—paperwhites and amaryllis are popular Christmas selections.
  • Cut back perennials—After your perennials are killed by frost (not before!), cut back the dead stems of any that look messy. If the dried stems have a nice shape or interesting seed pods, you can leave them for winter interest and cut them back in the spring.
  • Prune dead branches: The only pruning that should be done in the fall is the removal of dead or diseased branches. Inspect your trees, shrubs, and woody perennials, and trim away any dead wood. Remove and discard any branches infected by disease or insects. Remove branches damaged by storms since broken branches are more susceptible to disease. Save other pruning jobs for early spring or right after the plant blooms.
  • Till vegetable garden—Many insects and larvae spend the winter underground. Tilling or plowing will expose them to the surface, where they will be eaten by birds or killed by freezing temperatures.  Turning the soil also helps control harmful soil fungi and diseases.  And just like turning a compost pile, tilling your garden soil will aerate and speed up the decomposition on organic matter, so incorporate shredded leaves, grass clippings, or manure into the soil for on-the-spot composting.
  • Move terra-cotta and ceramic containers to a protected location like a garden shed or garage. Clean clay pots and repair damaged ones.
  • In the perennial border, touch up mulch around plants for added winter protection. A layer of mulch about two to four inches deep is ideal.  Leave ornamental grasses intact without cutting them back to discourage new growth during warm spells and encourage birds to visit.


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