12 Garden Tasks to Do Before the Holiday Rush

There’s plenty to do this time of year, with the holidays around the corner and gardens nearing the end of the growing season. There’s a case to be made for skipping any major fall garden cleanup, but there are a handful of end-of-year tasks to keep on your to-do list. After all, nobody wants to deal with an irrigation line breaking or downspouts clogging with leaves right when company’s due to arrive. Avoid last-minute surprises by getting on top of the following garden tasks now and you’ll be able to cruise through the holidays with time and energy to spare.

1. Deal With Fallen Leaves

Rake leaves off of pathways, ground cover plants and lawns (or you can mow them into the grass). Instead of adding them to the green bin, put the leaves to work in your garden. Try spreading leaves under trees and shrubs, keeping away from trunks, where they can decompose slowly over the winter, adding nutrients and organic matter back into the soil.

See more ways to put your fall leaves to work in the garden

The Todd Group

2. Mulch Beds

Spreading a layer of bark mulch is one of the easiest ways to make a garden look well-kept if you have guests coming over, and it’s great for the garden any time of year. Mulching in fall and winter helps prevent stormwater runoff and protects tender perennials, bulbs and shallow-growing roots from cold damage as temperatures drop. Spread a layer of mulch 2 to 4 inches deep (the deeper the better for cold protection) on top of any areas of bare soil in planting beds, making sure to keep the mulch 2 to 4 inches away from the trunks of trees or shrubs.

Darwin Webb Landscape Architects, P.S.

3. Spread Fresh Gravel

Give gravel pathways, patios and driveways an instant pick-me-up with a fresh layer of gravel. Topping up gravel on pathways by 1 to 2 inches can help keep boots drier and cleaner, reducing mud tracking into the house.

If you’re ordering for delivery from a local building-materials store, do so well in advance of the holidays and arrange for any assistance with spreading the gravel, if needed.

Wagner Hodgson
For gravel driveways, aim to keep the depth of gravel between 6 to 8 inches total and top up with as much as you need to replace, factoring in a bit extra if you live in a snowy area where gravel may be removed by frequent shoveling or a plow.

4. Clean Gutters

Clear leaves and debris from gutters, making note of any areas that need patching or repairing. Run a hose down your downspouts to loosen and free stuck leaves. Check that runoff from downspouts directs into garden beds, rather than onto walkways, and make any adjustments needed.

Lauren Dunec Hoang

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