As the saying goes, there are no dumb questions. In the garden, however, there can be a ton of questions. Here are our Gardening FAQs for fall—questions with all the garden answers. If we missed a question, comment below, and we’ll answer it.

Why Are My Conifers Turning Yellow In The Middle?

Here’s the link on why conifers turn yellow in the fall. How badly do they shed in fall, and how noticeable is it? For the quick, short answer, evergreens do shed. The oldest needles are shed first, most notably in the interior of the tree or shrub closest to the leader. Some, like fernspray false cypress or blue point junipers, shed more noticeably than fir or spruce. Others, like Emerald Green arborvitae, shed, but the tight growth habit hides it. Consider this before you purchase a conifer if it bugs you. For some gardeners shedding conifers are annoying. For others, it’s not an issue. But, for now, if yours are shedding, don’t stress. It’s normal.

How Do I Store My Containers In Winter?

Here’s the link to storing your outdoor containers in winter. Check it out as it gives the necessary information on each container type—glazed, concrete, plastic, resin, fiber blend, terra cotta—and adequately stores each one. The short answer for terra cotta pots is to clean them out using 1 part bleach to 3 parts water, let them dry, then store them in the garage, basement, or garden shed. Left outside in winter, porous terra cotta pots absorb water and freeze and thaw with the temperatures, cracking as a result. Read the blog for how to store the other containers.

Do I Fertilize My Landscape Plants Now For Winter?

No. Landscape plants are fertilized in March and if fertilizing a second time, do that in late July before August 1. After that date, fertilizing can push out new growth, which won’t have time to harden off before a first frost or freeze. Here are the October Garden Chores, which details fall garden chores.

Do I Prune In Fall?

No. For the same reason, you noted above. It can push out new growth that doesn’t have time to harden off before a freeze/frost. Here’s a link for how and when to prune. Put your pruners away for the winter, but not without cleaning them first.

Is It Time To Cut Back My Perennials?

Herbaceous perennials die back to the ground, i.e., the plant structure dies, but the root structure lives. When you see that happening, cut them back completely. Yes, that means to the ground. For more information on how to do that, read here.

Do I Take Off The Old Mulch Before Putting On The New?

No, it isn’t necessary. You can add a layer on top without removing the old—if this is important—there isn’t already too much mulch. Two to three inches is the limit for weed and soil retention for flower and shrub beds. Suppose mulch is packed on year after year, higher and higher, without allowing the mulch to break down over time. In that case, it can cause problems—less airflow between the soil and mulch, soggy soil (too much water retention), dry soil (water unable to seep through), and stem girdling from roots growing up into the mulch. If you have six inches of mulch now, skip adding more and instead remove mulch down to three inches or “fluff,” allowing for airflow and sunlight penetration to begin the process of breaking down the current mulch. For more information on mulch and mulch types, read here.

Do I Have To Water My New Plantings In Fall And Winter?

Yes. So, don’t put away the garden hose just yet. Here’s a watering schedule for spring and fall.

Is It Too Late To Plant?

No. Soil temperatures below the first one inch of soil reflect the preceding weather of the last few weeks and therefore are warmer, allowing for root development overshoot development. So, fall is a great time to plant, allowing roots to develop and establish. Here’s the guideline to fall planting.

Do I Prune My Hydrangeas Now?

Your best bet with all flowering shrubs is to prune after blooming. That way, deciding whether they bloom on old or new wood isn’t an issue, and you’re always playing it safe. But, to answer the question more specifically, here’s a blog on caring for the different types of hydrangeas. So before you start to deadhead or prune, know which hydrangea you have and when is the correct time for pruning.

What Do I Do With All These Leaves?

So glad you asked. Please don’t give them to the city. Seriously, the benefits of leaves for the earth are too many to innumerate. Use them to replenish your soil. Use them as mulch on your beds. This blog contains information on raking your leaves in the fall and using them in your garden beds.

Written by Cinthia Milner, Landscape Consultant and blog writer.

B. B. Barns serves all Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.