Perennials: Cut back peonies to the soil line after the first hard frost. Take up dahlia tubers, let them dry for a few days and store in a dry cool place.
Flowers: Search around for the last blooms of late summer for a last bouquet.
Vegetables and fruits: Potatoes in cold storage need to be kept dry. Make sure the air circulation is adequate. Apples, on the other hand, should not dry out. They will stay fresh in Styrofoam coolers in a cold spot in the cellar.
Trees and shrubs: Be alert for new pests such as the emerald ash borer and viburnum leaf beetle. Symptoms of the ash borer include branch dieback and vertical bark splits.
Lawn: New guidelines from Westchester County on lawn fertilizers recommend phosphorus-free fertilizer (where the middle number on the bag is zero) because most lawns do not need more phosphorus. Excess phosphorus can run off into the drinking water supply.
Houseplants: It is not too late to take cuttings of vigorous annuals. Or pot them up for a few weeks extension of summer.
General: Help stop the movement of exotic pests by only purchasing local firewood.
Susan Henry, master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester