By Mike Lieberman

Now is a great time to get a lot of things done in your garden. The summer is weeks behind us, so the conditions are great for getting your space ready for spring gardening. Cooler air and a decent amount of rain are conducive to quick root growth. This means that fall is a good time to plant new trees and shrubs.

Here are some things you can do now to get a head start for next spring:

Clean up.
Yes, I know no one likes to clean up, but you and your garden will benefit from doing it now, because many diseases can overwinter in plants and trees. If you don’t clean up, your plants may become infected again in the spring. Break out the rake and clean up any leaves.

Water.
How much you water in the fall will determine whether certain plants survive through the winter. Plants that are more woody need to be sufficiently watered during this time to ensure that they suck up enough water for the winter. As a basic rule of thumb, water should be applied about one to two times a week, depending on the moisture levels.

Fertilize.
By applying fertilizer in the fall, you will help your woody plants to thrive when the spring comes around. They will be storing all those nutrients during the colder months.

Mulch.
Add about 3 to 4 inches of mulch to help retain moisture and protect the roots from drastic temperature changes. Mulching will also help prevent weeds from growing.
Prune. Now is the time to prune your shrubs. It is fall, so most of the leaves have fallen. This makes it much easier to see branches and limbs. It’s also great to prune in the fall because the bugs aren’t in the way as much.