You’ve finally got your garden looking exactly how you want it. The bushes are pruned, the flowers are blooming, and I know you’re trying to ignore the fact that winter is slowly creeping around the bend. After all the hard work you put into your garden, it’s important to protect it over the winter season so you can enjoy your bright flowers and fresh veggies the moment spring arrives instead of having to work on months of winter damage. Here are some simple tips for winterizing your garden.
If you get something out to use it and then put it away nicely, it will already be clean and ready for you when you go to use that item again. The same goes for your garden. If we put our plants away neatly, they are willing for us the next time we need them and it saves us time down the road. Cut your perennials down to just a few inches before the first freeze hits. The roots will be protected underground through the winter, and they will flower again with no work in the spring. Annuals should be pulled up, roots and all, and tossed or composted as they will not flower again.
Keeping a vegetable bed healthy through the winter is all about the soil. Pull out weeds and invasive plants and make sure you get all the way down to their roots. Remove dead leaves, branches, stems, and other debris that may become a home for bugs or diseases. Next, you want to get a soil test. Different vegetables will pull different nutrients from the ground, which is why you should rotate your crops. Getting a soil test can help determine what you should plant next. Most gardens will benefit from a winter crop such as clover or garlic to keep a protective layer on your soil. Don’t feel like waiting all winter to garden again? No worries. Try a cold-frame to grow veggies all year round.
Some plants grow from seeds while others grow from bulbs. Most bulbs are very weather sensitive and need to be removed, dried, and stored indoors during winter months. Heartier bulbs you can leave in the ground, but make sure there is an extra protective layer of mulch on your flower beds if you do this. Four to five inches of mulch is a standard level to insulate bulbs from the cold.
Shrubs & Trees
Many small shrubs, bushes, and new trees need some extra love to survive the cold. Baby trees have sensitive bark that could dry and crack during the winter. Shrubs and bushes should have full foliage to protect against drying winds. Try a commercial tree wrap and fully enclose these trees and shrubs before the first frost hits.
Unfortunately, winterizing a water feature isn’t as easy as turning it off when the first freeze hits. Pump parts could become frozen and break during the winter if water is left in the hoses and pipes. Some water features are designed to run all year round and have anti-freezing mechanisms built into the pump system. Check with your installer to see what exact directions are needed for you to winterize your water feature.
It’d be great if we could keep our gardens blooming all year, but winter is coming and we need to be prepared. If you want to keep your gardens healthy for years to come, make sure you winterize them. It could be the difference between a colorful flowerbed or a soggy mess in the spring.