Preparing Your Garden For Winter

Learn about preparing your garden for the winter months and protect you plants, trees and shrubs for the cold.

Summer has ended and now it is time to put your garden to bed for the winter. It is time to rake up all the leaves, and create a bin so that you can recycle them into an excellent soil conditioner. It is also time to plant bulbs and fall perennials, divide existing perennials, prune shrubs, trees and rose bushes. Autumn gardening is about cleaning up from the summer's bounty, winterizing your tools to ensure they stay in good working condition, and preparing a winter blanket of protection for your plants that are about to enter dormancy.

1. To begin, pull up all garden debris and begin a compost bin. Composting enables you to recycle garden debris and provides excellent soil conditioners for the next planting season. Nothing is wasted and everything has a purpose. However, you do not want to add diseased foliage or weeds to your compost. These materials should be discarded in the trash. You want pure organic material in your compost to ensure healthy soil.

2. Rake up small amounts of leaves at a time. Raking smaller amounts prevents lawn damage. Place in a bin made out of chicken wire, or some other similar type of container that will allow air to circulate. Oxygen is needed in the decompostion process. The moisture in the decomposed leaves will create leaf mold which, in addition to compost and fertilizers, will build healthy soil for your garden in the spring.

3. Next, be sure to smooth out nicks and sharpen the edges of your garden tools. If you keep your tools in good condition your work in the spring will be easier. You can use files or moistened whetstone when sharpening. Make sure blades are wiped off and clean before storing them in a dry place.

4. Cut back dry stems, remove diseased leaves from evergreen plants and discard into the trash. Prune your roses to about six inches, removing stems that cross each other. Add mulch to protect the roots after the ground has frozen. You want to do this after the first freeze so that rodents do not bury themselves down inside the mulch. Mulch can be pine needles, leaves, dried bark, or evergreen boughs.

5. Shape other bushes and trees to desirable shape to ensure blooming next spring. Cut off all dead wood from vines, trees and shrubs. All stems should be cut from an angle and trees should not be pruned from the top.

6. You should also mulch bulb and perennial beds for protection against falling temperatures.

7. Adding ash from firewood is an excellent way to provide nutrients to your garden soil.

8. Fall is a great time to plant many different types of plants including bulbs, trees and shrubs.

9. Areate your soil well, pull weeds and improve your soils texture by using the same techniques you would use in the spring. Add organic matter such as peat moss, leaf mold or compost to your soil but delay fertilization until spring.

10. If you live in an area where rainfall is scarce, then you want to water trees and shrubs very well before the ground freezes. In warmer climates, water occassionally.

Now you are prepared for the winter and can begin planning and dreaming about your garden for the next spring.

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