First, your vegetable garden. Any gardener realizes that vegetable gardens need nutrients in the soil in order to produce plants that thrive and yield a decent number of fruits. In the past, I would just leave the plants to rot and return the nutrients into the soil. I recently read however, that tomato plants are very prone to disease and fungus. Of all the plants you grow, that is one to definitely pull out and throw away. Also, if you have leaves with black spots, you don't want to keep these around because they are also diseased.
Third, bring any pots or planters into your garage. If you leave them outside all winter you can have the smallest amounts of moisture inside the pottery or ceramic that will freeze (water gets bigger when it is frozen) and crack your pot. I have one that is especially heavy because I never take the dirt out, but I always manage to get it inside the garage so that I can enjoy it again the next year.
Another thing to do in the fall that I rarely do but should is "fluff" your mulch. If you remember from my post earlier this spring, I did a lot of work mulching my yard this year. With 2-4 inches of mulch, it can get packed down and start rotting. If you take a rake and mix it around it will help the mulch to decompose at a slower rate saving the need for too much additional mulch the next year. Yes, when it snows it will get packed down again, but you can fluff it again in the spring to see how much is necessary to add.
Not relating to plants or your yard, but equally important, there are other outdoor tasks you should do early.
Always make sure you unhook your garden hose from the outside spigots. You don't want water to freeze later in the winter and break anything or cause leaking that can damage the outside or inside of your house. You should also winter-proof your patio furniture. Some people have space to bring furniture inside, but if you don't you should at least get cushions protected and try to cover your furniture with plastic. This will help protect it from snow and the sun.
Another outside project to do now is clean out your gutters. When snow starts to melt you don't want a disaster of snow, ice, debris, and backed up water weight to break off your gutter. Plus, you always want water to flow freely away from your house so you don't have roof, gutter, or foundation issues.
Lastly, a dreaded chore-cleaning the garage. We don't currently park our vehicles in the garage, but every once in a while when temperatures get really low or snow and ice are predicted for the near future, I wish that I had cleaned out the garage so I could park inside. No one wants to clean the garage once it is already cold, so plan ahead now and do it while the weather will let you pull all your stuff out, rearrange it, and have space for a vehicle (or that outdoor furniture you thought you had no room for!).
Are there any other essential falls projects you do to get your yard ready for winter? Comment and let us know!