Preparing Your Garden For Winter
As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, there are a number of things you can do in the garden to prepare for winter. Putting the garden to bed for the winter is mostly a matter of cleaning up and covering up. As fall progresses and temperatures drop, those plants that aren’t killed outright by frost prepare for dormancy. Performing these few chores now will help get your garden through the cold weather in good shape, and make gardening easier for you come spring. Pull out spent vegetables and annual flowers or cut them off at ground level to leave the roots to decompose in the soil. Cut back herbaceous perennials, noting that those with strong stems and decorative seed heads (such as purple cornflowers or ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum) can be left standing to add visual interest to your winter garden. Perennials like lavender and Russian sage that set next year’s growth buds on woody stems should be left as well. Fallen leaves, dead plants and other debris can harbor diseases, rodents, or insect eggs if left on the ground over the winter. Rake up the debris and use it for compost or dispose of it appropriately.
Spreading mulch around trees, shrubs, and other plants left in the garden over the winter does more than just keep your yard looking neat. It will also help prevent soil moisture loss, moderate the effects of winter temperature fluctuations and help keep weeds from sprouting in the spring by blocking growth and access to sunlight.