Can you feel the chill in the air? Old Man Winter is on his way – which means it’s time to get your garden ready for the coming cold weather. By doing these gardening chores now, you’ll give yourself a great start for the next planting season. Here’s a rundown of what you should accomplish before winter descends.
Prepare perennials by cutting back dry or dead stems to the ground once frost appears. For some perennials, such as ornamental grasses or those with seed pods, you may choose to leave them until the end of winter/beginning of spring to add visual interest to your garden. They also give beneficial insects like butterflies and moths a place to lay their eggs or build their cocoons, which will then hatch in the spring.
Rake up leaves to have them collected by the city. Even better, run over leaves with your lawn mower and use them as mulch on the lawn and in garden beds. Or collect and compost them with other clippings, spent plants and kitchen scraps. You’ll be thrilled to then have nutrient-rich material to add to your soil in the spring.
Care for the Lawn
Your lawn needs a little love now before winter arrives. Keep mowing the lawn and reseed any spots that are thin. Add a half-inch of compost on top to build up the root system and aerate any patches that have become compacted. Fertilize well and keep it watered if it gets too dry.
Feed and Mulch Garden Beds
Your plants are only as healthy as the soil they grow in, and now is the perfect time to help beef it up for the next growing season. Add high-quality compost to your garden beds and top with a one- to two-inch layer of mulch. Adding compost and mulch now gives them time to break down, so in the springtime your soil will be fertile. Mulch also helps to make sure winter rains don’t wash any loose soil away.
Attend to Tools and Irrigation Systems
If you live in an area that experiences freezing weather, be sure to turn off your irrigation system and drain the lines before that first cold snap. Drain your garden hoses and store them in the garage, basement or shed for the winter. Drain or add fuel stabilizer to your lawn mower and any other gas-powered equipment.
Clean up all your tools like shovels and shears. Remove any caked-on dirt and coat metal parts to keep them from rusting. Tools with wooden handles can be treated with linseed oil to keep them from drying out. Store all your tools in a dry place over the winter.
Bring Potted Plants Indoors
If you like to give your houseplants a breath of fresh air over the summer, you should now bring them inside before it gets too cold. Flush the pots with water to remove any insects you don’t want hitching a ride inside. Remove dead or dying leaves, trim up the branches and add a fresh layer of mulch on top of the soil. When finding a place for them inside, be sure it mimics the type of light they became accustomed to outside, or slowly introduce them to their new home.