Beginners Guide: Preparing Your Landscape for Winter

Melinda Beginners Guide: Preparing your garden for winter

An autumn transition...

Fall is a season of transition and that includes your garden.  Make the most of beautiful fall days to enjoy your garden and prepare your landscape for the winter ahead.

Manage Leaves

Put fall leaves to work in your landscape improving your soil, reducing maintenance and creating winter homes for toads, frogs and beneficial insects.

Mow over the leaves that land on the lawn. It may take a couple passes but once the fall leaves are the size of a quarter you can leave them on the lawn to add organic matter and nutrients to the soil.

Mow, bag and add other shredded leaves to annual flowers or vegetable gardens. Dig several inches of shredded leaves into the top 8 to 12 inches of garden soil.  The leaves will decompose over winter adding organic matter to the soil.

Use leaves as mulch on the soil surface around the base of perennials.  They suppress weeds, conserve moisture, insulate the roots and add organic matter to the soil as they decompose.

Tree, Shrub and Perennial Care

Continue to water plants as needed until the ground freezes. Proper watering and mulch help keep plants healthy and better able to survive the winter.

Leave healthy perennials standing for winter. They add winter interest to the landscape, provide homes for many beneficial insects and the seeds of Rudbeckia, coneflower, Liatris and others provide food for the birds.

Remove and destroy insect pest-infested and diseased plant material. These serve as a source for infection. Check with your local municipality for proper disposal. Many allow you to dispose of small amounts of these materials in the trash.

Refresh mulch around trees and shrubs. Maintaining a 3” layer helps conserve moisture, insulate the roots from temperature extremes, reduce competition from the lawn for water and nutrients and improve the soil as it decomposes. Pull mulch away from the trunk of trees and stems of shrubs to keep plants healthy and reduce the risk of vole damage.

Cover tender and struggling perennials with a blanket of evergreen boughs, straw or marsh hay after the ground freezes. This helps prevent frost heaving, early sprouting and increases winter survival for bulbs and perennials.

Create windbreaks of burlap, decorative fencing or similar materials to reduce winter drying and death of broadleaf and other evergreens. Prioritize new plantings and those in subject to winds from the NW and sunny south facing locations.

Boost Your Lawn’s Health and Beauty

Help your lawn recover from the stresses of summer and prepare for winter with fall fertilization. It encourages deep roots and denser growth that is better able to compete with weeds and tolerate disease and insect pests.

A healthy lawn and regular fertilization is your best defense against weeds. If control is needed, spot treat weeds to save money and reduce the amount of chemicals used.

Always sweep grass clippings and chemicals off walks and drives and back into the lawn where they belong. This simple step keeps unwanted nutrients out of waterways and eventually our drinking water.

Once the garden is prepared for winter you can put away the hoses and garden tools, break out the snow shovels and wait for spring to arrive.

Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Beginner Gardeners' Guide with you!