Knowing how to prepare your garden for winter can make a big difference! Find out what to plant and how to protect your soil through the coldest months.
Preparing your garden for winter is the perfect way to protect it from cold weather and make sure you're off to a great start when spring arrives!
Winter weather can be tough on your soil! Mulch helps protect your soil from the winter harshness to give you better soil in spring. Choose whatever is affordable and readily available in your area. Straw, wood shavings, grass clippings, and compost are all great options, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.
Now is not the time for heavy pruning, but feel free to neaten up your plants before winter arrives. A little deadheading and some gentle shaping are perfect to keep your garden looking neat through the winter months.
Aim to get your hardy spring bulbs into the ground before it freezes. They'll happily wait until the ground thaws and then burst through to announce that spring has arrived! Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and snowdrops are all great options if you're in a cold area. Always remember to check with your local garden center though - they'll be able to give you the best, area-specific advice!
If you're lucky enough to live in a warm climate, you'll want to start thinking about how to make the most of the cool winter weather. Choose your winter garden plants and get them into the ground as soon as the temperatures start to dip. Pansies, violas, snapdragons, sweet alyssum, and petunias are perfect plants for a winter garden. And don't forget your primulas for that magical woodland feel!
If you're in a cold-winter climate, then you probably don't get much use out of your garden tools during the winter months. Before you pack them away, give them a good clean, sharpen them, and oil them. Now is the time to check that everything is in working order and fix any equipment that has broken. Make a list of what you need to mend or replace. You've got the whole of winter to shop around and find just what you need!
Plants in containers can be moved indoors or into a sheltered spot to help get them through the coldest winter months. As soon as warmer weather arrives you can move them back outdoors and have a headstart on your spring garden. This is perfect for tender perennials that can't handle frost and freezing temperatures. Just remember to make sure they get enough water and sunlight while you have them indoors!
Some bulbs can't handle freezing winter garden conditions. If you're in a cold region, you'll want to dig up your tender summer and fall bulbs before winter sets in. Dig them up, label them (don't skip this step!), and store them in a cool, dry place. Remember to store them in paper or cardboard - plastic will make them rot.
In some areas, you might be able to grow a cover crop in your winter garden. A cover crop acts like a living mulch, protecting your soil from harsh winter conditions. Some cover crops (like legumes) add nutrients to the soil as they grow. Others can be used as green manure. When winter is over and you are done with your cover crop, simply break it down with a spade and dig it into the soil!
Cover crops are usually planted in the fall. There are loads to choose from! Clover, vetch, wheat, and winter rye are all popular options! Not sure what will do well in your area? Your local garden center should be able to give you some good advice.
Summer is a busy time for gardeners! With everything going on, there's a good chance you haven't gotten around to everything you wanted to. Garden looking a little messy? Been neglecting a spot or two? As the weather cools and the plants slow down, there'll be more time for all those things. There's not much going on in a winter garden which means now is the perfect time to get everything neat, trimmed, and in its place.
Fall is the time to gather leaves for leaf mold! You can just put them in a pile and leave them for a couple of years. Keen to speed up the process? Shredding the leaves makes them rot quicker and they take up less space. Don't have a shredder? No worries - just run a mower over them.
If you're low on trees and don't have enough leaves, simply find a neighbor. Most people are super glad to have help raking their leaves and will happily let you take a few bags to turn into leaf mold.
Winter offers a lovely break from the business of the warmer seasons. You've worked hard in the garden all summer and winter is the time for you (and the soil) to rest. The best part about winter though is having the time to reflect on your garden and plan for next year. While everything is still fresh in your mind, take some time to make a note of what worked well, what failed, and what you learned. Planning next year's garden makes the winter months fly by and in no time at all, you'll be sowing seeds and mowing lawns again!
Want to learn more about gardening? Save has all the best ideas to help you build a beautiful and fruitful garden without breaking the bank! Find out how to make your own compost, try your hand at container gardening, make your own bug sprays, or start a vegetable garden and learn to can your own food!
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