Gardening Tips

September Gardening Chores:  Zone 6     

Gail's garden
Gail’s garden
  • Set out cool-weather vegetable transplants, including salad greens, broccoli, kale and cabbage
  • Plant garlic and leeks
  • Prune cane fruits such as raspberries and blackberries
  • Plant winter pansies and fall annuals (calendula, dianthus, ornamental cabbage and kale)
  • Plant tag teams of perennials and spring-blooming bulbs that will complement each other or bloom in sequence next season
  • As tops die back, harvest potatoes, onions and garlic
  • Plant peonies
  • Plant fall-blooming bulbs to brighten up fading window boxes, planters and in drifts among ornamental grasses
  • Continue to harvest herbs, grasses and flowers for drying
  • Divide peonies, bearded iris and other spring- and summer-blooming perennials.


October Gardening Chores:  Zone 6   

  • Start fall compost pile
  • Plant winter- and spring-flowering bulbs
  • Divide and replant crowded fall-blooming bulbs after leaves yellow
  • Buy winter- and spring-blooming bulbs
  • Plant container and balled-and-burlapped fruit trees
  • Plant permanent ground covers
  • Cut back on feeding houseplants (do not feed dormant houseplants)
  • Plant and aerate lawns and loosen thatch
  • Sow seeds for frost-tolerant perennials
  • Divide and replant summer- and fall-blooming perennials after bloom
  • Plant container roses
  • Protect roses for winter
  • Plant container and balled-and-burlapped trees, shrubs, and vines
  • Plant summer-blooming shrubs and vines
  • Plant frost-tolerant trees
  • Plant needle-leafed evergreens

Source:,  And also some excellent fall tips at:

November Gardening Chores:  Zone 6         

  • Start fall compost pile
  • Plant winter- and spring-flowering bulbs
  • Divide and replant crowded fall-blooming bulbs after leaves yellow
  • Buy winter- and spring-blooming bulbs
  • Cut back on feeding houseplants (do not feed dormant houseplants)
  • Protect roses for winter



March Gardening Chores:  Zone 6       

Lawns: as ground becomes workable, rake up winter debris (leaving certain areas as natural food source for birds); de-thatch lawn if necessary; fill in low spots with soil, and fertilize established lawns. Beds:  Dig beds in preparation for spring planting as soon as soil is workable; add compost in four- to six-inch layers and work into planting beds. Established plants:  prune out winter damage to shrubs and perennials; reset frost-heaved plants. Annuals/Vegetables:  Indoors – sow seeds indoors of annuals (flowers), herbs & vegetables that require 10-12 weeks before planting;  Outdoors – sow radish and lettuce seeds directly into the vegetable garden; plant cold weather veggies like spinach, peas, lettuce & broccoli as soon as soil is workable.                Backyard friends: Make yard a suitable habitat for birds as they are migrating in preparation for nesting season; if possible, have several birdfeeders with a variety of birdseed; keep suet out (great nourishment), and ensure water availability! As noted in Lawn section above, have a natural area available: it provides insects, nesting debris, and shelter (brush pile).  Heat birdbaths if possible, and keep them clean.


April Gardening Chores:  Zone 6                              

Our Spring season has been damp; please refer to the March chores list below along with the following suggestions for April!

Lawns: Crabgrass will begin to germinate when soil temperature reaches 50 degrees (around the time the forsythia blooms).  Apply corn gluten (to control weeds) at this time, or a crabgrass pre-emergent.  Test lawn soil, and apply lime if necessary.

Beds:  Farmers Almanac tip to determine whether your garden soil is ready for seeding – grab a handful of soil. “If it forms a ball, the soil is too wet, but if it crumbles through your fingers like chocolate cake, it is ready for planting!” Have your soil tested (CT Agricultural Experiment Station website  provides a form and instructions for mailing soil samples). Fertilize preferably with a fertilizer containing slow-release nitrogen. Divide and replant crowded bulbs (winter & spring blooming).  As you are cleaning up your beds, bear in mind that many unwanted insects and diseases can overwinter in your garden, so you may not want to add this debris to your compost.  Cut back any perennial foliage that you didn’t trim back last fall; wait until new growth appears before cutting back the butterfly bush, lavender, sage, Montauk daisy, caryopteris, and other woody shrubs.  Cut back ornamental grasses before new growth appears.  Prune roses and boxwoods!  As our “winter soil” softens and dries out, divide and transplant! Hostas, ornamental grasses and ferns and best divided & transplanted in early spring.

Container plants: Make sure to provide sufficient water to plants that have over-wintered in containers (soil in containers dries out quickly); check the soil for mold and re-pot with fresh soil if necessary.

Set up birdbaths and maintain with fresh water for our migrating, nest-building friends!

Winter Gardening/Backyard Chores (December-February): Zone 6     

  • Make a brush pile of winter greens as shelter for wildlife/birds
  • Provide fresh water for wildlife/birds
  • Fill a tube-feeder with black oil sunflower seeds or mixed seeds for birds pinecone-bird-seed-feeder
  • Hang a birdfeeder of suet made from peanut butter, lard, oatmeal and birdseeds
  • Sow seeds for hardy spring-blooming plants (end of January – indoors)
  • Cut back on feeding houseplants (do not feed dormant houseplants)
  • Sow seeds for cool-weather vegetables (end of January – indoors)
  • Sow frost-tolerant perennials indoors
  • Water living Christmas trees (ice cubes work well)
  • Pre-chill tulips and hyacinths for forcing indoors

Source:  Backyard Gardener, CT Audubon society


Spring Gardening tips (courtesy of NY Botannical Garden library)

green & clean 2013 (7)

-Chores and Maintenance:    

  • Continue to cultivate planting beds and carefully remove young weeds
  • Dig and divide early-blooming perennials after flowering
  • Lift, divide and replant late summer and fall-blooming perennials
  • Set supports for floppy plants, vines and vegetables
  • Mow lawns regularly to keep grass at 2 1/2″ height
  • Begin watering program as necessary
  • Begin weeding
  • Aerate and moisten compost pile to speed decomposition
  • Mulch azaleas and rhododendrons, and other ericaceous ornamentals with acid mulch
  • Mulch planting beds
  • Deadhead bulbs but allow foliage to remain until yellow to nourish bulbs for next year’s display
  • As night temperatures moderate into the 60’s, move houseplants outdoors (avoid full sun and windy locations)
  • Look for pests and other problems; spotting early can mean less chemical controls. Note: slugs and caterpillars can be removed manually
  • Begin application of deer repellents


  • Move self-sown annuals and perennials to desired locations
  • Sow seeds of corn, cucumber and melon directly in the garden
  • Harden off tomato, eggplant and pepper transplants before planting out at end of month
  • Complete planting deciduous trees and shrubs, weather and soil conditions permitting
  • Continue to plant and transplant perennials
  • Plant summer annuals after last frost date
  • Plant summer-flowering bulbs such as gladiolus and dahlias after last frost date
  • Plant caladium and tuberous begonias in shady spots
  • Complete re-seeding bare lawn areas

-Pruning/ Fertilizing:

  • Pinch back late summer and fall-blooming perennials
  • Continue to prune all plant material to remove any diseased, dead, weak or crossing branches
  • Prune early spring-flowering shrubs after blooming
  • Wait to prune evergreens, hedges and other shrubs until late spring into early summer
  • Begin deadheading roses
  • Fertilize roses
  • Fertilize needle evergreens with acid type fertilizer
  • Fertilize bulbs as they finish blooming
  • Fertilize annuals and container plants
  • Fertilize lawns in late May (leaving grass clippings on the lawn can reduce the need to fertilize)


  • Finish re-potting houseplants as needed
  • Take out houseplants as temperatures moderate; move to partially shaded, wind-protected location

*These gardening tips are applicable in an average year for the southeastern New York region: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6a and 6b, which include New York City, Northern New Jersey, Rockland County, Westchester County, Southern Connecticut, and parts of Long Island. Plant hardiness zones refer to geographic areas where the growing season of plants is determined by the time of killing frosts in the spring and fall. Even within zones, climatic factors such as altitude, proximity to water, wind exposure, winter sun exposure and snow cover contribute to the existence of different “microclimates” and can influence plant adaptability


Below are snapshots taken in August of the gardens of our members Janet Valus, Jackie Albert, and Gaye Seymour.

Scenes from the backyard of Janet Valus (2 photos)!

Jan Valus' garden (2)
Jan Valus' garden (2)

Jackie has taken an uncultivated overgrown hillside in her backyard and turned it into a serene, shaded perennial garden (2 photos below)!

Jackie's garden (2)
Jackie's garden (1)
Gaye's garden (1)
Gaye's garden (2)

Next: 2 photos of Gaye’s beautiful backyard.

February Gardening Chores:  Zone 6          

  Provide plenty of food and water for birds (and squirrels)!  Did you know:  Avoid the use of salt to melt snow, as it is toxic to most plants. Use sawdust, sand or cat litter instead. 

  • Order seeds
  • Cut back on feeding houseplants (do not feed dormant houseplants)
  • Sow seeds for cool-weather vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, onions, leeks)
  • Sow slow-growing flowers indoors, including garden verbena (Verbena hybrida), stocks (Matthiola incana), wallflowers (Cheirianthus cheiri), and ageratum


May and June chores:  Zone 6       

Continue to cultivate and weed planting beds.  Water frequently!  Divide and replant late summer and fall-blooming perennials.  Boost with 5-10-10 formula.

Stake and support vines, floppy plants and necessary vegetables.

Mulch rhododendrons/azaleas and other acid-loving plants (including needle evergreens) with acid mulch. Fertilize and mulch planting beds (3 inches) and planters (mulch helps retain moisture).

Look for signs of pests on plants, including herbs and hostas!   Begin looking for Japanese beetles and knock them into can of soapy water.

Prune spring-flowering shrubs that have finished blooming (rhododendrons are blooming – prune after they flower); deadhead & fertilize roses.

Water lawn and beds in early morning or evening.


July gardening chores:  Zone 6                

  • Deadhead  blooming annuals and perennials for repeat flowering
  • Harvest veggies  immediately when ripe; rotting produce attracts insects
  • Avoid weed-infested gardens: weed before you leave on vacation
  • Water hanging baskets and patio pots daily during warm weather
  • Fertilize annual flowerbeds with an all-purpose fertilizer to encourage more blooms
  • Harvest lavender stems for use in bath sachets or drying
  • Sharp shears  make quick work of herb and flower harvests
  • Mow cool season grasses at 3 inches during the summer to shade and insulate the soil
  • Enjoy a glass of tea flavored with mint, pineapple sage, or lemon balm from the garden
  • Provide birds and butterflies with a shallow water source                                                         
  • Source: