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Photo courtesy Ted Bates
Fall is a good time to dig up and separate day lilies.

Tackling fall chores eases workload in spring

Now that the nights are getting cooler and the sweet autumn clematis is ready to bloom, it’s time to start thinking about fall chores.

It’s much easier to clean the beds now than muck through the mud in the spring.

What you can do now

•De-thatch and reseed bare patches in the lawn, or expand garden beds to eliminate those problem areas.

•Check out the sales at local nurseries and pick up bargain perennials, trees and shrubs.

•Buy and plant peonies or replant old ones. Peonies aren’t fond of moving; but if you must, this is a good time.

What you can do later

These are things you could wait awhile to do, but are best finished before really cold weather and frozen ground.

•Dig up any overcrowded hosta or day lily clumps, break up the root clump into two or more plans and plant the separate parts. When I do this, I usually put one of the now-smaller plants in the old hole with some compost mixed with the soil.

•Plant spring-flowering bulbs before the ground freezes. You can dig the holes and put them in now, it you want.

•If you want to force bulbs this winter, buy a few extra this fall. I put them in the fridge until I’m ready to get it all set up.

•Rinse off tender houseplants and their pots. Move them inside before the nights turn frosty.

•Have any tropical water plants? They need to move inside well before the first frost.

What can wait

When you are cleaning up the garden this autumn, don’t go overboard. Some tasks can wait until spring.

•Cutting ornamental grasses, coneflowers and other taller perennials. Uncut grasses and perennials will feed hungry birds with their seeds and most look beautiful with a glaze of ice. I especially like hydrangea snowballs in December.

•Pruning the roses.

•Fertilizing the lawn. It isn’t bad if you continue, but you can cut back this time of year.

Take a photo

Email your favorite garden photo as a JPEG attachment to Please include your name, the name of any person or pet in the photo, type of plant, and the community where you live.

I’ll give them all a look and post one per person on The Journal Gazette’s gardening blog, “We’re Digging It.” Some of them might make it into The Dirt column.

Anne Gregory is a garden putterer, not a gardening expert, and writer and editor. Garden photos (JPEGs, please) and tips may be sent to (please put “The Dirt” in the subject line) or 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.