1. Lawn. Mow until the first frost, keeping the length above 2.5". Rake leaves that smother and kill grass. Rake up excess grass clippings using an iron rake or thatch rake. Check with a garden pro whether to aerate and fertilize.
2. Garden. Ask a local expert which plants to fertilize before the first frost. For example, you won't want to fertilize roses because it discourages winter growth and makes them vulnerable to extreme weather.
3. New plantings. For a nice spring bloom, plant bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Day lilies and dahlias are also good for fall planting. To fill bare spots in your lawn, plant cool-season grasses such as perennial rye, bluegrass, and fescue.
4. Deck or patio. Sweep off leaves and debris. Cover patio furniture or remove and store if you have space. Wipe each piece with damp cloths and dry with towels. Remove or cover your grill and store it if possible. Remove mildew on decks with a solution of 3 quarts of water to 1 quart oxygen bleach and 1/4 cup of ammonia-free liquid dishwasher detergent. Put this in a garden sprayer and apply liberally. Let it set for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Gutters. After most of the leaves have fallen, clean out and repair your gutters. Clogged and leaky gutters can flood the basement and cause other water damage to your home when snow melts.
6. Hoses and Mowers. Disconnect garden hoses and store inside. Turn off water supply at shutoff valve inside the house and open the outdoor spigot to drain it. Drain the gas from your lawn mower and sharpen or replace blades on garden tools.