How to Prepare Your Yard and Garden for Winter
Author: Chris Speicher
While we spend so much time and money keeping our yard beautifully maintained all summer, we often fall short when fall rolls around. By taking just a few easy steps, you can properly prepare your lawn and garden for the winter months, so that you can enjoy its full splendor when warmer weather returns.
The experts at garden equipment manufacturer Troy-Bilt recommend taking the following steps:
- Evaluate. Before you start your preparations, take a moment to review what worked and did not work in the garden over the past season and jot down notes in a garden journal so you remember a year or two from now. Fall is the best time to move plants because roots are given ample time to establish.
- Clean up. Removing leaves and debris reduces the likelihood of future problems since they can harbor pests and diseases.
- Repair damage. Fall is the best time to reseed a lawn that’s been damaged by summer heat. Top-dressing the seed with up to one-quarter inch compost or soil will help it take root.
- Don’t put away the hose. Continue to water plants and lawns in the fall, as the rainfall tends to slow down. Plants need to stay hydrated to properly retreat to their winter states.
- Fertilize. Despite what many people might think, autumn – not spring – is the most crucial time to fertilize lawns and gardens. Renewing the mulch in flower beds, especially the top two or three inches, will protect many plants from harmful freezes.
- Go easy on pruning. Pruning promotes growth. It’s important to prepare plants to go dormant during the winter rather than growing.
- Think spring. Some spring bulbs, such as crocus and grape hyacinth, should be planted in the fall. Larger bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, should be planted in the fall but won’t bloom until spring. Many vegetable plants, like beets, broccoli and cabbage grow best in the winter.
- Cover plots. Covering a garden bed with burlap keeps weeds at bay. Another option is to plant a nitrogen-rich cover crop, like clover, which can be easily turned under when spring arrives.
- Tune-up tools. After completing all preparations, clean, oil and sharpen tools, and then store them in a dry place to prevent rusting.
- Winterize your power equipment. Make sure to drain the gas from your lawn mower and other gas-powered equipment after you’ve finished using them for the season to keep the engine running smoothly next year.
Although you may be tempted to skip these less-than-glamorous fall tasks, keep in mind that winterizing your garden will make for less work come springtime.