Tips for Growing a Late Summer to Mid-Fall Garden

From the last tomatoes to the first apples, these seasons are beautiful and bountiful.
DIY Apple Picking Totebag

DIY Apple Picking Totebag

Create a fun apple-themed canvas tote bag perfect for apple picking.

Photo by: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo by Melissa Caughey

Flower borders may be starting to fade, but late summer is a time of “mellow fruitfulness” in the garden. Most summer crops can be gathered in, with tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, and squash reaching their peak. Use the warm days for cleaning and organizing tasks too.

Harvest Apples and Pears

The first apples and pears in the garden should be ready to pick from August onward. When you see one or more apples on the ground, this is a sure sign that the fruit is ready to harvest. If you cup an apple in your hand and gently twist it, a ripe fruit should detach effortlessly from the tree, stalk intact. If it does not come away easily, leave it on the tree for a few more days before testing again. Pears should be harvested while slightly underripe and ripened indoors.

Feed Tomatoes

Continue to feed tomato plants with a high-potash feed applied weekly. Water plants every evening if possible. If you have green tomatoes toward the end of the season, bring them indoors to ripen on a sunny windowsill or in the fruit bowl. Remove any yellowing leaves, and thin any foliage clustered around the trusses of fruit. As well as allowing more light to reach the fruits and ripen them, this will improve air circulation around the plants and reduce the possibility of botrytis, also known as gray mold.

Fix Tree Band Traps

Female winter moths are unable to fly, so will climb apple and pear tree trunks to lay their eggs during winter. To catch them, fix sticky tree band traps around the trunks. Use the bands on stakes too, to prevent moths from reaching the trees via tree ties.

Lift Onions

When the foliage collapses, onions are ready to harvest. On a dry day, gently ease the onions out of the soil, and leave them out to dry. To ensure that they store well and do not rot, they must be completely dry—if the weather turns wet, cover them with a sheet of plastic, or move them indoors.

Net Ponds

Leaves will start to fall as autumn approaches, so ensure that you cover your pond with special netting to prevent dead leaves from falling in and affecting the water quality. Nets will also protect your fish from herons and other predators.

Rake Leaves

Fallen leaves will collect on your lawn in the fall and can kill off the grass if left in a thick layer, as well as encouraging slugs and snails if left lying over and around plants. Rake leaves up regularly, and use them to make leaf mold.

Prune Lavender

Once your lavender plants have flowered and started to fade, go over the plants with a pair of shears, cutting them back. This will encourage side shoots to grow and give plants a bushier, more compact look. Rambling roses should also be pruned after flowering. 

Next Up

Add Zest to Your Late Summer Garden

Learn how to revitalize your garden in the dog days of summer with these expert tips.

Late Spring to Early Summer Garden Tips

Just as warm sunshine begins to approach, give your garden the boost it needs for seasonal beauty.

Growing a Midsummer Garden

Kick back in the beauty of your garden during these long summer days.

Uncommon Summer Bulbs

Expand your gardening horizons with these summer bulbs.

Growing Satisfying Summer Flowers

The budget gardener's trick to growing satisfying summer flowers is to do it from seed.

Versatile Vines

Check out these exquisite vines for quick coverage and nonstop summer color.

Plants for Summer Color

Ignite some garden fireworks with plants that sparkle in summer.

Summer Garden Spruce Up

Tips on giving the garden that second wind until fall arrives.

Late-Summer Container Refresh

Expert tips for sprucing up your containers when summer heat begins to take its toll.

Tips for Planting in a Heat Wave

Sweltering temps might not be ideal conditions for planting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

Go Shopping

Spruce up your outdoor space with products handpicked by HGTV editors.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.