Winterize Your Garden
Whether your garden is just a few square feet of flowers or many rows of vegetables, proper winterizing can save you a lot of work the following spring. Over the winter, dormant weeds can take root, delicate bulbs and perennials can suffer, and harsh weather can damage even the most tolerant plants, but proper winter preparation can spare your garden the ravages of the season.
10 Ways to Winterize Your Garden
Depending on the type of garden you have, you can help winterize it in a number of ways once your last flowers have bloomed and your last veggies have been harvested.
- Rake excess leaves to discard them or mow them into fine mulch to help them break down over the winter to recycle their nutrients into your planting beds. Avoid large piles of leaves that can mat down and suffocate underlying plants.
- Water evergreen plants thoroughly before freezing begins. When the ground freezes, water is locked into ice and these plants can suffer from winter droughts. Watering in autumn will help them plump up to withstand the winter.
- Weed garden areas to remove seeds that can detach from seed heads during the winter and will become buried in soil in the spring. By weeding in the fall, you minimize the amount of weeding needed in the spring.
- Cut back perennials as desired so they will be able to put forth fresh spring growth without obstructions. Bear in mind that seeds on some perennials can be food for birds and other winter wildlife, however, and choose which plants you cut back carefully.
- Remove stakes, labels, row markers, and other accessories from your garden and store them carefully if they can be reused the following year. Leaving these items out all winter invites damage and decay that can make them useless in your garden next spring.
- Plant hardy bulbs such as tulips and daffodils so they can get an early start in the spring, but dig up tender bulbs such as dahlias and cannas to protect them from the harshest winter conditions. This will help preserve your bulbs from year to year.
- Apply winter mulch with a thick layer of compost or other amendments so the nutrients can slowly leach into the soil during the winter months. This also helps insulate roots and protects them from freezing.
- Use canvas to create windbreaks around young plants to prevent them from drying out in winter winds if necessary. Take care, however, not to smother the plants.
- Disconnect and drain hoses, sprinklers, and water features to prevent broken pipes or other damage from repeated winter frosts and freezes.
- Clean, sharpen, and oil your garden tools as needed to preserve them in ready-to-use condition so you're set to go as soon as it's gardening time next spring.
By thoroughly winterizing your garden – from the plants and soil to the water features and tools – you not only help your garden survive winter conditions, but you will be ready for easier work in the spring when it's time to begin gardening again.
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