What To Do In Your Yard and Garden This November
A trusty leaf rake is my constant companion this month.
No matter how often I’ve said to myself after raking up an area “This looks great! I’m glad I’m done with that,” I’m never done.
The wind will see to that. More leaves blow in from all directions and find their way into every nook, cranny, and crevice.
If I don’t get them off the hard surfaces where they collect and mat, they’ll turn into leaf mold and leave a stain next spring as a reminder of my present laziness.
While you’re out raking leaves this month (probably more than once!), take time to appreciate the fall light, crisp air, and your garden when the plants are backlit and rustling in the breeze.
It makes the continual leaf clean-up easier to bear.
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What to plant in November
- You may still have time to plant garlic and shallots this month. You can plant these if the ground isn’t frozen. Space the cloves 6 inches apart, and plant them pointy-end up!
- There’s still time to plant spring bulbs this month. It’s best to get them in the ground before it freezes. If you wait too long, there’s a good chance they won’t make it to next spring.
- Sow annual and perennial flower seeds that need a significant chill time. It’s best to do this in containers, so you don’t lose track of them.
- Plant wildflower seeds after a killing frost. Scatter the seeds according to the package directions. Compress them into the soil, but don’t bury them. Water the soil so that it’s moist but not soaking wet.
- Plant bare-root trees. Keep them moist and cool until you’re able to plant them.
- Dig the hole for your live Christmas tree now, before the ground freezes.
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- Store hoses and sprinklers in a handy, frost-free location for winter watering.
- Unless you have a lot of snow covering your yard, make periodic checks for weeds. Keep an eye out for perennial weeds and continue to thwart their invasion plans.
- You’ll also need to be vigilant about “winter annual” weeds that have sprouted already. These germinate in the fall and can survive the winter as small plants. Next spring they’ll continue to grow and become a nuisance, so the sooner you can get rid of them, the better.
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- As long as the ground isn’t frozen, you still have time to get your soil tested. Getting a soil test is the best way to understand your soil and prevent many plant problems.
- Continue watering your evergreens if your soil is dry. Evergreens transpire water all year round, but can’t take up more water once the ground freezes, so they must be well-watered before the ground freezes.
- Evergreen ground covers also need a good soaking before the ground freezes.
- Mulch any bare spots in your garden.
- Take time this month to maintain your garden tools. Use a wire brush to scrape off caked on soil. Put a new edge on all hoes, shovels and pruning shears. Wipe the metal parts with machine oil and wooden handles with linseed oil. Store them in a dry place over the winter.
- Remove and destroy fallen leaves and plant debris from under any plant that had rust, fungus, or other disease. This will help stop the spread of the disease next year.
Related: Fall yard clean up
- If rabbits or deer are a problem in your garden over the winter and spring, start spraying repellants this month.
- Protect perennials, shrubs, and trees from deer with netting or fencing.
- Protect any broad-leaved evergreens with burlap to prevent winter burn.
- Late this month, wrap the trunks of young trees. Use a commercial wrap made specifically for this. It can be stored and reused many times. Start at the base of the tree and wrap upward in an overlapping spiral to the second tier of branches. Secure the top with duct tape. Make a note in your calendar or garden journal to unwrap them in early April.
- Mulch evergreens before the ground freezes.
- If you don’t have a cold frame, November is a great time to build one.
- Clean your seed-starting pots and flats this month, to get a jumpstart on next year’s seed starting.
- Newly planted broad-leaf evergreens like azaleas, boxwood, and hollies benefit from winter wind protection. Set up a burlap screen to protect them. Pound in the stakes in place before the ground freezes.
- Look for viburnum beetle late this month. Remove the egg cases by pruning off the affected branches. They’re usually hiding on the undersides of young twigs.
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- Keep adding notes to your garden journal or notebook while things are still fresh in your mind.
- Review the notes you made through the growing season, and use those to jog your memory.
- Add any new thoughts about what made this year interesting or challenging for you.
- Think about how your lawn has performed over the summer. Are there places where it struggles due to shade, or is thin and worn from kids or dogs? If so, think about ways to reduce the size of your lawn by eliminating grass in shady spots and setting up a children’s play area or a dog run.
- If your lawn has continued to grow, mow it one last time, and then winterize your mower.
- Give your lawn its last application of fertilizer this month after the last mowing for early green-up next spring. Apply ½-1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Apply ½ pound if you’ve fed your lawn regularly this year, and 1 pound if you haven’t or are trying to rehab a damaged lawn.
- Rake all leaves off your lawn to prevent them from smothering the grass.
- If you live in a dry climate, or you’ve had a drought, it’s important that you water your lawn this month if there is no snow cover or rain. Always drain your sprinkler and hose and store them inside to prevent freezing.
- If you didn’t put any suet out last month, now is the time to do it.
- If you don’t already have a heated birdbath, consider installing one before the weather gets much colder.
- Keep your feeders filled with niger seed to attract sparrows and goldfinches.
- If you’ve left plants like coneflower, black-eyed Susans, zinnias, and cosmos up for the winter, you should see more seed-eating birds in your yard, so keep your binoculars handy!
- Your fruit-bearing shrubs and trees will attract birds like robins, waxwings, finches, and cardinals.
Should I mulch in November?
In the fall, it’s a great idea to add some fresh mulch! Mulching in the fall has the same benefits as spring mulching. Mulch helps keep soil moist, keeps weeds away, and prevents soil erosion. And it’s a simple way to make your garden look great!
What’s a good winter cover crop for my garden?
If you’re looking for a cover crop to protect your garden during the winter months, you might want to consider some winter hardy grasses and legumes. Some popular options include winter wheat, winter rye, Austrian winter peas (which can be grown in Zone 7 or higher), red clover, crimson clover, hairy vetch, and fava beans.
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Your turn: what to do in the garden in November
Did I miss any important November garden chores? Let me know in a comment below!