12 Ways to Prepare Your Garden for Winter


The cold conditions associated winter months can devastate your garden plants. Shrubs and perennials can suffer and diseases may spread to annihilate your garden. Besides, you cannot give your best to the garden due to the chills and rains common during winter. Only by preparing adequately can you get your garden through winter so that it blossoms and looks better during spring. Here are 12 ways to prepare your garden for winter. 

1. Let Your Plants Alone

Leave the vegetables and flowers in your garden in place to die back on their own just like it happens in nature.  The leaves and stems of the dead plants cover the soil. As plants decompose, nutrients will return to the soil and their root systems. The improved soil fertility makes the garden ready for spring. Do this only if you do not care about aesthetics.

2. Clean Paving and Paths 

There will be lots of dry leaves and debris once the trees are bare. Get rid of them while everything is still crisp and dry. Also, clean your paving thoroughly with soapy water and scrub with stiff brush before the frost sets in. This will reduce slipperiness of the paving and make it safer during the wet months. A good alternative to scrubbing is to give your paving and paths a blast of pressurized water.

3. Tend To Your Trees and Shrubs 

Prune any misshapen limbs and branches on your shrubs to improve their shape. You can also give your hedges trim if necessary just before the frost arrives. Get rid of diseased, dead and destroyed branches to your trees. This prevents stems from rubbing against one another and forming deformities or wounds. You can look for trees with brightly colored barks to give your garden some facelift during winter.

4. Take Care of Your Borders

If you have herbaceous perennials in your border, cut them back as close to the ground as possible as they start to die down. Also get rid annuals that have completed their growth cycle. Clean your borders by getting rid of any dead leaves, foliage and weeds.

Clip the edges of your lawn and used items from your perennials. However, spare anything with beautiful and attractive seed heads. The latter will look breathtaking in frosted state. Also spare deciduous grasses. You can leave them till February since their dead leaves protect the crown of such grasses.

Empty your compost bins of their well rotten contents. Spread the contents over the fresh soil to make it ready for the spring. The compost will also make the soil more attractive during the deficient winter months. In all you do, ensure you broaden your borders by using an edging iron.

5. Repairs Structures In The Garden 

You will not be able to do any repairs on your garden structures during the colder months. Therefore do it before frost sets in. Cutting down your structural shrubs, trees and boarders will give you access to your garden structures. Perform the maintenance required on your fencing, farmhouse, ponds and greenhouse. Pay more attention on any pest infested or decaying timber. Initiate appropriate corrective measure immediately.

6. Clean Your Pond And Other Water Features 

Use a net to temporarily cover your pond and other water features during the fall. This will prevent the pond or water feature from clogging up with foliage.  In case you have not cleaned such establishment for while and it begins to look murky, late autumn is the best time to tidy it as many creatures begin to go dormant.

If fish resides in the pond, ensure the water surface does not freeze over completely. A good way to ensure this does not happen is to place a floating object such as a pneumatic ball.

7. Cushion Your Plants 

Tender species such as palms, agapanthus or cannas are more susceptible to effects of frost. Move the pots and containers planted with these species into greenhouse or conservatory for the winter months. If the tender species are planted on the ground, wrap horizontal fleece around their trunks. Spread a thick mulch of tree bark around the base of the delicate plants to cushion them from frost.

Lift bare-foot the deciduous shrubs, trees and roses and replant them just before mid-March.  Similarly, lift by root balling the rest of your garden plants especially the coniferous and evergreens. You need to do these appropriately if your plants are to survive.

8. Ready Your Lawn

Use a scarifying rake to remove moss and thatch from your lawn. This will allow it to breathe and grow freely. Having large moss on your green space is evidence of poor drainage. If that’s the case, improve the drainage with lawn spike aerator. Without an aerator, a standard garden fork will also do a decent job. Combining aeration with a commercial autumn lawn feed and moss killer products will completely eliminate moss infestation.

9. Grow Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Grow your favorite spring-flowering bulbs just before it freezes. These plants require well-drained and well-fed soil. Therefore, dig in huge quantities of sharp sand and a little of bone meal for slow release of nutrients to feed the bulbs over extended periods.

Use the correct spacing when planting the bulbs. Experts say you should plant bulbs at 2-3 times the depth of the variety of the bulb. Spacing should also be 2-3 times the width of the variety of the bulb you plant. Planting a single variety of bulbs in a drift will guarantee you more magical and dramatic effect.

10. Mulch As Much As You Can

If you cannot put a cover crop for any reason, it would be a good idea to mulch as much as possible to protect your plants from frost. Doing this will possibly protect some pests. That’s fine because mulching will also protect the predators of such pests as well as some other organisms vital to the quality of the soil.

The best mulch to use is plant leaves which are readily available during the autumn. Use a standard garden rake to collect the dried leaves from your green space or elsewhere. Leaves from native plants are better suited because they are not moisture-retaining. If you only have moisture-retaining leaves, make leaf-mold or compost them.

11. Pay Attention To Snow 

It is hard to imagine the devastation extended periods of heavy snow can do to the plants in your garden. The best thing you can do to your plants to ensure they survive the cold winter weather is to knock off the snow from their leaves. This simple act can help prevent severe damage and even the possible fatalities that might befall the plants. Remain vigil when snow begins to form.

12. Create winter color and greenery 

Everything may appear white during winter but your garden does not have to be the same. You garden can still be exciting and interesting. A good way is to incorporate a few architectural green shrubs such as Phormium tenax. This will add some structure together with your deciduous shrubs such as midwinter fire (Cornus sanguine). It will also enlighten winter border with picturesque stems that are flame-colored.
Additionally, you can fill your garden containers with winter polyanthus, pansies and violas. Fill each pot with a single species. For even better results, partner these plants with perennials, evergreen grasses, bulbs and shrubs. 

Conclusion

Your garden does not have to be dormant during winter. You can keep it attractive and alive by using the above ways to prepare your garden for winter. Without proper preparation, the extreme temperatures in winter can devastate your garden forcing you to start a new with the beginning of spring. With proper preparation, your garden will look great and blossom during spring.

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