10 Useful Fall Gardening Tips You Should Know

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Rake, Leaves on Grass in Garden
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Cooler days and frosty nights help you get in the mood for picking apples and planning for Halloween. They're not quite as kind to your garden. Though you might have to say goodbye to some of your plants come autumn, this season is the perfect time to start working on making next year's garden your best one yet. Don't put those gloves away just yet.

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Lots of yellow autumn maple leaves on the ground close up on a Sunny day. leaf fall. Dry leaves underfoot.
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Turn This Year's Leaves Into Next Year's Compost

Set yourself up for a strong start next year by transforming fallen leaves into nutrient-rich compost. Some gardeners invest in leaf shredders, which speed up the decomposition process. But even if your leaves remain whole, you can get quite a bit of breakdown before spring arrives. And, as a bonus, dumping leaves into your compost pile saves you from dragging them out to the street.

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Yellow cucurbit in dry leaves
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Turn Pumpkins Into Compost, Too

Fallen leaves aren't the only autumn staples that belong in your compost pile. Pumpkins, gourds and winter squash are all super useful when you're trying to create compost that's packed with nutrients and minerals. Thick rinds won't break down as quickly as flesh will, so cut pumpkins into chunks before tossing them on the pile. Don't forget to save apple cores and peels for your compost, too!

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"Pots of sage , thyme and oregano on windowsill"
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Move Plants Indoors

Does the weather in your area make it impossible for your plants to survive outdoors? If so, don't resign yourself to watching them all die. Certain plants can flourish indoors, as long as they get plenty of sunlight, making it feasible to transport some of your favorites to pots and keep them indoors all winter. Just be sure to carefully inspect every plant for insects before bringing them in.

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Sowing Seeds For New Lawn
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Nurture New Lawn

Even if you live in a place where snow blankets the ground all winter, fall is the perfect time to plant new grass. Grass seed can flourish once the heat of summer fades and the ground is cool and damp. So tend to your lawn right now, whether you're reseeding a few bare patches or the entire yard. In cold climates, it's important to get this task done before temperatures drop to freezing.

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Close-up of potting soil with a mix of peat moss, perlite, compost, and other organic matter
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Fertilize Soil Now

It might seem counterintuitive to add fertilizer to your soil now. If you plan to let your garden lay dormant through winter, what's the point? In fact, autumn is a good time to infuse your soil with nutrients, in part because it can take weeks or months for soil to reap the benefits of additives. Get this job out of the way now and save yourself the time when spring (finally) blooms.

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HDR Fall at the Garden Center
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Pick Up Discounted Plants

Your local garden center really doesn't want to hang on to its inventory all winter long. You know what that means: clearance sales. Autumn is the best time to get bulbs and potted plants for cheap. While you're picking up pumpkins and holiday wreaths, grab some deeply discounted plants that you can nurture indoors until spring.

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Potted herbs and cups filled with soil on windowsill
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Test Your Soil

How's your soil pH? If you're not sure, fall is the ideal time to find out. Testing your soil allows you to make adjustments to improve plant health. Pick up a home testing kit from a garden store to determine whether your soil is too alkaline or too acidic, and develop a plan of action from there.

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Garden tools on wood
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Inventory Your Tools

If the slippery grip of that shovel bothered you all summer, make a change when fall comes. Take stock of your equipment at the end of the season. Gather all your gardening tools and check everything for rust or other signs of wear and tear. If you realize you need a new trowel or a pair of gloves, you may be able to pick them up on clearance. Barring that, add them to you gift wishlist when the holidays come.

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