There are tasks that must be completed in the next couple of days to prepare the garden and tools for next spring. Any spring-flowering bulbs need to be planted before the ground freezes. Daffodils, paper whites, hyacinths and tulips should be in the ground within the next few days. Protect these bulbs from squirrels by placing mesh wire over the them and securing with stakes. Squirrels will otherwise dig up the bulbs for a tasty snack.
Pick anything remotely ready in the garden. Butter beans, green beans, the last of the tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and sweet potatoes will freeze along with the plants, so pick the plants and vines clean before that happens.
Clean all garden tools before storing. Wash away any soil, then lightly oil the tools and wipe clean. Wash any pots that have been emptied, especially terracotta pots, and store these where the temperatures won't get to freezing or below.
Don't prune flowering shrubs or fruit trees. The buds are already set for spring blooms. Do prune pine or hardwood trees now. The sap isn't flowing, allowing a cut to heal quickly.
Lay a thick cover of mulch on top of strawberry plants and any others that should be protected from a hard freeze. Roses can always benefit from organic mulch. Some perennials, though winter hardy in the south, may not survive the harsh winter of the northern mountain area. Make sure to dig up bulbs that can't survive the frozen ground.
Consider sowing seed for a ground cover over the garden area. This will prevent loss of fertile soil and the growth and spread of weeds. Many ground covers add nutrients to the soil.
Add color to the fall garden by planting flowers, bushes and shrubs that wait until cool/cold weather to do their thing. A burning bush is ideal to plant where all the flowers have died back, leaving this deep red bush to take center stage.