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The signs of autumn are in the air. The kids are back in school. Football season is kicking off. And the days here in northern Virginia are getting just a little bit shorter.

There’s still time to work in your garden, to get some fall color and a head for next spring. Northern Virginia’s climate offers a comfortable fall that offers ample time for winter gardening prep. Before you pack up your trowel and pruners, here are some fall gardening tips.

Clean the beds.

Rake up the leaves, weeds, old mulch, and debris. Deadhead the plants. Cut back the perennials to foster healthy growth in the spring. Edge the beds and repair any damaged pavers, bricks, or other stonework.

Amend the soil.

The summer plants probably devoured a lot of the soil’s nutrients. Replenish it with a layer of manure before adding fall plants. Then add a layer of fresh mulch to protect the new plants and retain the moisture they need.

Prune now.

Don’t wait until spring to prune your trees and shrubs. By that time, you could be cutting off new buds. Cut them back now to spark growth for spring,

Dig and divide.

If you have perennials in your garden, now is the time to split them up. Dig up the bulbs, separate into clusters, and then spread them around your garden. Do it well in advance of the first frost so they can take root.

Add fall color.

You don’t have to completely give up your garden. Plant some asters, mum, and kale to enjoy hardy flowering plants with the rich shades of autumn.

Treat your lawn

You might think you can just let your lawn rest for the winter, but if you want it to come back beautifully in the spring, apply an herbicide in the fall to prevent weeds from germinating over the winter. Then fertilize your lawn before the first frost (late October). Always fertilize your lawn in the spring and fall to keep it green and healthy.

We still have plenty of time to enjoy the yard and outdoor fun. Why not invest a little time to your garden, and save yourself a little time next spring?