The fall is quickly coming to a close, and winter is right around the corner. As you gather in your last round of harvest, don’t forget to prepare your garden for the winter. With just a few quick and simple steps, you can help your garden survive even the harshest of winters. Come springtime you will be glad you took the extra minutes to prepare your garden for winter.
1. Clear Out Dying Plants
This is a good time to go through and pull up any plants that were diseased or had insect problems. If you leave plants that were diseased in your garden over the winter, it could spread into the soil and infect your healthy plants. So pull up any unnecessary plants so that only the healthy plants will pull nutrients from the soil this winter. If the plants you are pulling up were healthy, feel free to add them to your compost pile. However, if you do have plants riddled with disease or insects, you should burn them or bag them up and throw them away instead. You should also clear out any leaves or weeds left in your garden. This will discourage mold and insects from taking over your garden in the spring.
2. Trim Your Perennials
As you pull up your unwanted plants, you should also try to prepare your garden perennials that will stick around until next year. Cut back your perennials so they are only 4-6 inches tall. Don’t get to hasty and cut back your plants too early! Wait until the plant is dead after the first frost before cutting it back. This allows the roots of your plant to absorb all the energy and nutrients from the plant to sustain them through the winter months. If you have tall plants with interesting seed heads, such as sunflowers or thistles, feel free to leave them standing tall. These provide necessary food and shelter for birds and butterflies during cold winter months.
3. Add an Extra Layer of Compost
If you have a compost pile in your backyard, you will want to put a fresh layer down to prepare your garden before the winter snow comes. Not only does this insulate your plants, but it will breakdown over the winter months and add rich nutrients to your soil. Make sure your compost has a healthy mix of brown and green material. However, don’t lay down a thick layer of compost or mulch too early. Wait until the first frost has already rolled through. Otherwise, mice and other pests will seek sanctuary from the cold under your compost and mulch layer. If you wait until after the first frost, most pests will have already made a winter home elsewhere.
4. Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs
The final step to prepare your garden for winter is to plant your bulbs that will flower in the spring. Daffodils, hyacinth, tulips and even garlic can be planted in the fall, so that it is ready first thing in the spring. You will want to plant them in a hole at least 3 times deeper than the bulb. Although you they don’t need to be watered, you can give your garden one last good watering after you plant these bulbs. Just make sure that the soil has good drainage so that the bulbs don’t sit in water and rot.
It doesn’t take much to prepare your garden for winter. These simple tasks will go a long way to help your garden be beautiful and healthy this spring. Keep an eye on the weather, and as the leaves finish falling and the first frost starts rolling in, then you know it’s time pull on your work gloves and head outside to prepare your garden for winter.