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Fall Gardening Chores: November

Hardy geranium; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/ Lida
Leaves of a hardy geranium; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/ Lida


  • Have soil tested at local cooperative extension service to determine pH and nutritional levels

Chores and Maintenance:

  • Continue to thoroughly water trees, shrubs, lawn areas and planting beds until ground freezes
  • Complete removal of fallen leaves and debris to protect from overwintering of insects and disease organisms in all vegetable garden beds ONLY. Perennials gardens will benefit from a layer of insulating leaves and many beneficial insects like ladybugs rely upon seasonal debris as habitat to survive the winter.
  • Cut back perennials to 4 to 5 inches, but leave ornamental grasses to provide winter interest until spring
  • Mulch boxwood and broad-leaved evergreens before the ground freezes
  • Mulch flower beds to keep the ground temperature stable and prevent winter injury from frost heaving
  • Provide burlap windbreaks for boxwood and broad-leaved evergreens; install stakes before the ground freezes
  • Protect trees from mouse damage with wire mesh trunk guards
  • Protect shrubs from deer with burlap or netting
  • Mow lawn one final time to height of 1 1/2 to 2"
  • Aerate soil around rose roots and hill up earth 10 to 12" around the crown after a heavy frost
  • Continue to feed birds
Cut back perennials but leave ornamental grasses for winter interest
Cut back perennials but leave ornamental grasses for winter interest


  • Continue to plant deciduous trees and shrubs until the ground freezes
  • Complete planting spring-flowering bulbs
  • Propagate deciduous shrubs, such as hydrangea, viburnum and weigela; and evergreen, such as holly, juniper and yew
  • Pot hardy spring bulbs for indoor forcing
Propagate deciduous shrubs such as weigela; photo by Marlon Co
Propagate deciduous shrubs such as weigela; photo by Marlon Co

Pruning and Fertilizing:

  • While one school of thought recommends that you fertilize your plants now in preparation for spring, others caution that you should NOT fertilize trees and shrubs now. Your plants don’t need it as they prepare for dormancy and most of what you apply will wash away during our frequent winter thaws. Plan instead to feed your plants in early spring when the buds break.
  • Incorporate lime and fertilizer in the annual and vegetable gardens for next growing season
  • Complete pruning of late-blooming trees and shrubs after the first frost when the plants have entered dormancy.
  • If needed, prune early spring-flowering shrubs to remove diseased and damaged branches but preserve buds
Give houseplants as much light as possible; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/ Oregon State University
Give houseplants as much light as possible


  • Give houseplants as much light as possible as lower light days begin
  • Continue to let up on fertilizing indoor plants until spring
  • Provide houseplants with increased humidity; mist often or place plants over a tray of moist pebbles
  • Pot up prepared bulbs for indoor forcing
  • Begin to increase the time between waterings, but do not cut back on the amount of water


*These gardening tips are applicable for an average year in the southeastern New York region: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6a and 6b, which include New York City, Northern New Jersey, Rockland County, Westchester County, Southern Connecticut, and parts of Long Island. Plant hardiness zones refer to geographic areas where the growing season of plants is determined by the time of killing frosts in the spring and fall. Even within zones, climatic factors such as altitude, proximity to water, wind exposure, winter sun exposure and snow cover contribute to the existence of different "microclimates" and can influence plant adaptability.


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