Many people believe that when the weather turns cooler and leaves begin to fall, it's time to put away garden tools and pack the garden up for winter only to begin again next spring. Winter is THE time to maintain your garden's health for the perfect start for spring. In as little as a couple of days, you can make a great investment in your garden that will pay off next spring and summer.
When nighttime temperatures begin dropping below 45 degrees Fahrenheit for more than four consecutive days or frost is forecast in your area, it is time to begin preparing your garden.
Quick Tips to Prepare Your Garden for Winter
Begin with a walk through your garden (with pen and pad) note plants that need to be pulled out, plants to be moved and those that need to be cut back.
Make your list for new and replacement plants. In moderate areas (zones 6 & 7), plants can often be planted on into December while zones 8 and 9 can generally plant any time over the winter months.
Next, wearing gloves do a walk through with pruning shears (utility scissors often work well for perennials and small shrubs), clip away any dead or damaged branches from shrubs and trees, cut to the ground all perennials that have died back and pull out all dead plants, spent annual and vegetable plants. With an empty tote or large trash bag, now do a walk through picking up the dead plants and clippings along with any trash that may have been dropped or blown into your garden area.
Order and plant new and replacement plants.
As fall progresses, leaves will begin falling to the ground. Run the mower over the leaves that make it into the yard area to make mulch. The mulched leaves can be raked up and moved to the garden area to spread throughout begin sure to mound around plants. The fallen and mulched leaves will gradually decompose over the winter months. Anything remaining can be left in spring or hoed into the soil. Leaves help to add organic matter into the soil making it healthier. Weed seeds don't germinate as readily in healthy soil. Plus, mulch also helps to stablize ground temperatures to reduce sudden changes.
Any young trees or shrubs in your landscape may need to be wrapped or supported over winter to prevent breaking or bending over. Wrapping can be done with burlap or other open weave fabric. Loosely wrap the trunk area securing with pins, twine or string. Supports can be made from wooden or metal stakes and tied loosely with nylons or twistie ties. Another way to support younger plants is with tomato cages or formed chicken wire filled with leaves for insulation.
Wash, dry and oil all gardening tools for storage. Spray wash the lawn mower and underneath where blades are located. Wash and dry off lawn furniture and store if seasonal.
If you have a garden pool, it is time to move plants to the bottom and reduce feedings to any fish. Turn off fountains or man made streams (where water pumps back to the beginning). This is for cooler areas such as zones 7 and colder.
These tips will help to prepare your garden for winter. Most of these tips require little time - mostly organization and can be handled effectively over a weekend.