Your Entire Property

  • Clean power tools of all plant material and dirt.  Replace worn spark plugs, oil all necessary parts, and sharpen blades.  Store all tools in their proper place indoors, never outdoors where they will rust over the winter.

  • Clean and fix all hand tools.  Repaint handles or identification marks that have faded over the summer.  Paint the handles of garden tools red or orange to preserve the wood and make the tools easier to locate next summer when you lay them down in the garden or on the lawn.  Sharpen all blades and remove any rust.  Store them in a dry storage area.

  • Set up your bird feeders and stock them with bird seed.  Remember to provide fresh water for birds. Dump old water and replenish as needed.  If water freezes, birds can’t access it.  Consider using a birdbath heater.


  • Remove leaves and debris from lawn to reduce growth of harmful fungi over the fall and winter.  Add them to compost pile or shred them and use for mulch.

  • Drain the fuel tank of the lawn mower or tiller before putting the machine away for the winter.  Consider using ethanol free gas, it is a little more money but it is available at ABC Equipment and hardware stores. Any power tools that are used in winter, or sit for long length of time benefit from using this type of gas since it will not cause the engine to gum up and not start.

Garden Beds

  • Remove leaves and debris from all garden beds to reduce growth of harmful fungi over the fall and winter. Leaves also provide cover for rodents such as voles that can damage plants during winter when there is less for them to feed. Add them to compost pile or shred them and use for mulch.  Some gardeners suggest leaving leaves as it protects and insulates plants sio there is some debate on this topic.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Inspect trees and shrubs for bagworm capsules.  Remove and destroy them to reduce next year’s pest population.  Inspect for other bugs and/or egg masses that could hatch next season.  Consult us or an arborist for more info if you come across something that does not look right.

  • Depending on forecasted temperatures, spray rhododendrons and other broadleaf evergreens with Wilt-Stop or Wilt-Pruf to protect them through the winter.  These products coat the leaves so that they retain moisture during the cold, dry winter months.  Apply when temperature is between freezing and 40 degrees, and when temperatures are predicted to stay near freezing.

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Grasses, Roses, etc.

  • Cut down soft stems and foliage of herbaceous perennials within a inch or two from the ground after two or three hard frosts when leaves begin to brown.  Woodier plants such as Montauk Daisies, Russian Sage and a few others can be left higher.  Lavender can be left alone after shearing back flower stems.
    *******Some gardeners leave foliage and seeds as long as they can before spring for birds and other animals to enjoy.  Most plants should be cleaned up by the time they start growing next spring.  However any plants that are disease prone, it is more important to remove the foliage by end of fall.  Peony botrytis blight and hollyhock rust are common issues.  By removing and disposing of all old stems in the fall will reduce the carryover of the diseases during the winter and you will have less trouble next year.

  • After several hard frosts add mulch to your perennial flower garden.  A one inch layer of straw or chopped leaves will help conserve soil moisture and protect the root system from fluctuations in temperature.  this is particularly important for any newly planted plants.

  • After chrysanthemums have stopped blooming, cut stems back close to the ground and dispose of stems and all dropped leaves and branches.

  • Clean up rose beds again.  Be sure all diseased leaves are raked up and disposed.

Seasonal Pots & Containers

  • Consider filling your frost-resistant containers with evergreen branches, twigs, berries and cones. You can cut your own with what you are willing to sacrifice off of your plants from around the yard.  With deciduous plants such as Red Twig Dogwood and Winterberry it is better/easier to let the leaves fall off naturally before cutting them.  Kennedy’s carries a large selection of greens, twigs, berries, pines cones and more we get closer to Thanksgiving. Our creative makes things easy by designing ready made pot fillers that can dropped in your pots and urns.

  • Empty out any pots that are not frost resistant.  Clear any debris out of the bottom, if the holes clog they can crack in winter.  Some people turn them upside down or store them in winter to minimize risk.

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • African violets do well when potted in small pots.  A good general rule is to use a pot one third the diameter of the plant.  Encourage African violets to bloom by giving them plenty of light.  They can be in a south facing window during dark winter months.  They bloom beautifully under fluorescent lights.  In fact, they seem to prefer them.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • After the ground freezes, mulch small woody or herbaceous fruit plants such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.  One inch of straw or leaves is ideal for strawberries.  Small branches may be used to keep mulch in place.  All other plants that are done for the year can be composted, unless they had disease and you plan to use the compost later in the same area.

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