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Easy ways to transition your garden from summer to fall

Alvina Wang/BestReviews

A welcome transition

For some, the decreasing daylight, falling leaves, crisper air and seemingly perpetual overcast sky offer a welcome respite from the tedious upkeep of outdoor chores. Tending to a garden — even just a few potted tomatoes — requires passion, patience and diligence.

As the warm months fizzle out, even the most fervent of enthusiasts can grow weary and seek a break from the gardening routine. However, autumn isn't the time to abandon your outdoor chores. With some effort, you can transition your summer garden into a resplendent fall spectacle.

If you're not quite ready to relinquish your responsibilities and take refuge indoors, here is a guide on transitioning from summer to fall garden tasks.

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How to get your garden ready for fall

1. Remove annuals

Annuals are only good for one year. When their time is up, they won't be returning. As fall begins and those hot, sunny days are officially over, go through your garden and remove all summer annuals.

2. Continue weeding

In the fall, perennial plants begin to go dormant, cleverly moving all life-sustaining elements to their underground extremities. With no more growing to be done, this is an ideal time to grab these pesky reoccurring nuisances by the root and remove them from the premises. Permanently.

3. Disease control

Plants that are infected with disease need to be cared for. That means inspecting your garden for any signs of blotchy leaves and carefully removing those leaves. Since diseases are transmitted by wind, rain, insects and other animals, make sure you properly dispose of the infected parts. Typically, this means burial or burning.

4. Bring indoor plants back inside

Once it drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at night, those plants that thrive in warmer temperatures will start suffering. You'll need to move them back inside before it gets too chilly. But before you do, thoroughly check for insects and diseases and treat them appropriately. Remember, sudden changes in temperature, light and humidity can be fatal to plants. Once inside, give them an abundance of light to allow them to adjust. Adding a little fertilizer is OK; just be sure not to overwater.

5. Replenish your colors

Believe it or not, fall usually has more optimum planting days than spring. Once you've removed unwanted items from your summer garden, fall is an excellent time to plant. Don't worry; you won't be stuck with an orange and brown color scheme. Numerous flowers can bloom in the fall, so your autumn garden will come alive with vibrant pinks, purples, yellows, whites and even reds.

6. Plant some veggies

Many fall vegetable varieties have a short maturity time and grow in cooler weather. Spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage are just a few greens you can enjoy in the fall. Additionally, root crops such as carrots and radishes taste sweeter when they are harvested after it has turned cold.

7. Add some mulch

Late-season mulching can help block weeds, maintain moisture and insulate the soil — both from end-of-summer heat and the start of winter cold. This helps prolong the growing season and will allow your fall garden to flourish.

8. Leave some leaves

Leaves offer many of the same benefits as mulch. Plus, as they break down, they add nutrients to the soil. You can lighten your workload by leaving some leaves behind to help provide nutrients and insulation to your garden.

9. Refrain from pruning

Nothing makes a fellow feel more dapper than a fresh trim. Your trees feel the same way — just not at this time of year. Just like people, trees need to heal after a cut. If you trim back branches as the growing season ends, it creates an open wound that could be there for months, inviting disease, insects, rot and decay. Fight that impulse to tidy up too much.

10. Clear away the deadwood

Broken or dead limbs are a different matter altogether. Because they are already broken (wounded) or dead, there's no increased harm in pruning them away. Additionally, dead or broken branches that haven't been removed by the end of the growing season can become hazards. High winds and wet snow can be the catalysts that turn a large limb into an instrument of destruction. Clearing away the deadwood is more of a safety issue than an appearance concern.

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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