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How to Sanitize Your Garden in the Fall

Woman bagging garden twigs and debris into a large garbage bag
Cleaning out your garden by picking up dead and dying vegetation helps reduce the incidence of pests.

Did you know sanitizing your garden is important for plant health?  “Sanitation” is the removal of plant material that can harbor pests.  By removing debris from your garden at the end of the growing season you reduce the ability for pests and pathogens to negatively impact your garden next spring.

Some tips on sanitizing your garden in the fall include:

  • Removing weeds
  • Destroying crop residues
  • Picking up fallen fruit
  • Applying clean mulch
  • Trimming dead branches
  • Remove stakes, row covers, irrigation lines and hoses, and other man-made objects

Sanitation will help prevent diseases and soilborne pathogens such as powdery mildew, a fungus that overwinters in fruiting structures on plant debris. When temperatures warm in the late spring, a secondary spore (conidia) forms and blows to new leaf tissue and causes infection. By reducing the debris in your garden you hinder the ability for pathogens and pests to reproduce.

Trimming branches helps to improve air movement in the spring and reduces the amount of dead tissue where pathogens can overwinter as does removing man-made objects in the fall.

Additional garden sanitation resources

How to clean your garden tools

Visit Utah State University Extension for more information

Download this fact sheet about home gardening pest management from New Mexico State Extension.

Get more information on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) from the University of Maine Extension Service.

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