Where do you start?
Raking leaves from trees and shrubs
You can use your leaves for composting in an area to add more nutrients to the soil, but if the leaves have been infected with disease or insects make sure to throw them away. If you are unsure, play it safe and remove the leaves. Also, make sure you add some quality mulch to help insulate the plants from future cold spells. Mulch is available from www.platthillnursery.com . Mulch is even more important for the perennial beds. We do not get as much snow in the winter and snow acts as an insulator for the root systems and the top portion of the plant. If possible, mulch after the first hard freeze because putting mulch on too early can keep the soil warm and delay dormancy.
What to do about a new bed?
Now is a great time to create and get new beds ready for spring. Till an organic compost like One Step, peat moss, etc. to break up the heavy clay soils we have in our area and add food for your plantings. Also, now is the best time to plant spring blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. They need a period of freezing to come up in the spring. Your local garden center (www.platthillnursery.com) will have these products available.
Fall is a great time to plant cool-weather crops such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and kale. Kale actually tastes better after a touch of frost. Plant a cover crop such as clover or alfalfa that will help add nutrients and break up the soil when tilled into the ground in the spring.