While you enjoyed your garden all spring and summer, by the time fall rolls around most of the plants' leaves are changing and everything but the late-blooming perennials are fading and turning brown. If you live in a cold climate, you may have to protect your plants from the coming frosts and snow if you want them to survive until the following spring. Also, preparing your garden for winter will give you less cleanup once spring arrives.
Remove any dead plants, annuals and weeds from your garden. Cut back any dead growth on your perennial plants and deadhead any flowers.
Place any tender perennials in pots and move them inside if you want them to survive the winter. Dig them up from the ground and place them in a well-drained pot with potting soil. Fill the rest of the pot with soil and pat it down gently. Water the potted plant until the water seeps out of the bottom.
Divide your perennials as needed in the early fall. Dig up the perennials in a wide circle around the plant. Gently divide into two to three separate plants. Dig new holes for the plants as deep as the root balls and two times as wide. Place the plants in the holes and fill them with soil. Water the newly planted perennials until the soil is moist.
Rake the soil in any flower or vegetable beds that are free of plants at the moment. Remove rocks and any other debris. Add 4 to 5 inches of compost and work it into the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches to improve your soil's condition.
Water your garden until the soil is moist before the ground freezes.
Mulch around any plants in your garden that need the extra warmth on their roots. Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch for shrubs, trees and hardy perennials before the ground freezes.