Preparing your Garden for Winter
| When autumn nights start to get cold, its time to
prepare your garden for winter. Wintering not only makes your garden look
better during the cold weather months, but will make for easier work in
the spring and will protect less hardy plants from the cold. Start closing
your garden down when there is frost in the forecast or the temperature
consistently starts to drop to
Evaluate your garden design
Finally, take a look around to see if your garden is lacking in fall blooms. If so, you may want to plan on planting some late flowering plants in the spring, such as Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan), Aster Novi-Belgii, Anemone Japonica, Sedum spectabile. Hydrangea paniculata also provides nice colour in the fall, but you dont have to wait until next spring to plant them. Many hardier shrubs like panicle hydrangea are perfectly happy with a late planting and will use the extra winter to build up a bigger root system; its like getting almost another year into your plant.
While this applies to many plants, not all will appreciate that head start. Panicle hydrangeas are fine, but their big leaved cousins, H. macrophylla are not going to do well over that first winter if youre popping them in around October. Id wait until spring to plant them and any other plant that has the rep for being a touch tender (You know, I'd even wait until spring with hybrid tea roses, softer perennials, even azaleas and rhodies in those hardest hit areas). My rule of thumb is if its a plant that everyone says, You cant kill that thing, its o.k. to plant it. If even one person says I had some of those but I lost them that last bad winter, let them go until spring.
Winter garden cleanup
Many organic farmers use flame weeders as an alternative to herbicides. They're effective in the garden, along walkways, and around the lawn to wither weeds on contact. Useful in winter on icy walkways, too. I highly recommend them.
Finally, if you dont already have a compost bin, I urge you to
consider starting one at this time. You can throw your cuttings as well
as dried leaves in your compost bin, which will break down into a nutrient-rich
compost for next season. Dont throw weeds or diseased cuttings
into your compost, however, as this will only multiply these problems
down the road.
Much of our suburban landscape is trees and shrubs. Fall is a great time to have your tree person come over to look at the topside of the landscape; the leaves are off and all is revealed, including any dying or diseased wood that should be removed. Sure, its one more thing, but when that big old branch drops and snaps your prized Chinese tree peony in half youLL wish youd done it. Limbing up our trees lightens the shade some the next season as well, so think about places in the garden that would benefit from that (If you dont do it at all the shade just gets heavier year after year ).
Another key point to winterising is to look to those evergreen plants that make up so much of the American landscape. Wind can dehydrate these perpetually verdant types and send them into permanent dormancy, so we should protect them somehow. The old school method is to hammer in three or four stakes around the plant and then take a few turns with a roll of burlap to make a windscreen. Not too pretty but very effective, especially if you stuff the top of the screen with straw or pine boughs.
The new method is to spray your plants with an anti-desiccant like Wilt-Pruf, creating a waxy coating on the leaves and needles to seal in the moisture. These sprays work great while theyre on, but its my experience that they usually need reapplying right around the time the nastiest storms of January and February are hitting, so remember to stock up for that second application (and dont forget the mittens, scarf, boots )
Often you hear recommendations about mulching up around trees and shrubs before winter hits, but I have seen much more damage from rodents (who move into these cushy, warm piles to spend the winter snacking on the bark and phloem of the tree youre trying to protect) than any winter damage so Im not a big fan of that theory (If its a rose or a turkey fig or something that really needs that extra protection, dont bury it in mulch , use soil. A better job of insulation from both cold and pests ).
Cutting Back Perennials
Cleaning and Storing Tools
Of course, if you choose to ignore winter preparations, the world will not come to an end, but you risk losing some of your less hardy or younger plants to severe cold, and also face a more daunting garden preparation chore in the spring. It's well worth spending some extra time in your garden on a crisp autumn day to snugly tuck-in your garden in before winter takes hold.
Article from: www.helpfulgardener.com