During warmer weather, you take good care of your garden and spend time planting, watering and deadheading. But once winter rolls around and your flowers die, you probably don’t give your garden much thought. Proper garden preparation prior to winter can give it an easier start come springtime. Follow these tips to winterize your garden and give it the best chance for survival though the colder months.
Plants aren’t the only things to prepare for winter; grass can also suffer in subzero temperatures. To keep your lawn healthy while it’s covered in ice and snow, Kelly Burke of The Spruce recommends fertilizing and aerating it before winter’s first frost. This will keep the soil rich with the nutrients your lawn needs once the spring thaw arrives.
Remember not to overdo it with the fertilizer, as too much can burn the grass. To aerate your lawn properly, Burke says to use a spade to remove pockets of soil across your lawn to give newly planted and fertilized seeds access to air. Water your lawn before winter arrives as well; with access to water, your lawn has a better chance of surviving the winter.
If you cut your lawn during winter, don’t leave it too long or too short. Long grass is susceptible to freezing conditions, but close shaves will leave the crown of the grass exposed and vulnerable. Charlie Nardozzi of the National Gardening Association recommends cutting grass between two and three inches in height. Objects like unnecessary tools, furniture or leaves can smother the grass, so make sure you remove them during winter. Reduce lawn traffic to prevent the already-weak lawn from being trampled on.
Perennials and annuals
Perennials require minimal preparation for winter. Better Homes & Gardens explains that perennials go into hibernation in the winter and bloom once the weather warms up. Cut the plants back and mulch the area to create an ideal environment for these flowers.
Annuals are more difficult to maintain during winter. After the first frost of the year, the majority of annuals won’t survive. After their demise, Olivia Heath of House Beautiful says to pull up the dead plants, either discarding them or adding them to the compost pile. Mulch the now-unoccupied area of your garden with a thick layer of chopped leaves. This will insulate the soil from the effects of freezing weather.
Vegetable garden care
Vegetable plants require different winterization steps than flowers. Better Homes & Gardens recommends harvesting any autumnal crops, such as pumpkins and sweet potatoes, prior to the year’s first frost. Many root crops, like carrots and Brussels sprouts, can stay in the ground during the light frosts of early winter. You can also prepare your garden for the upcoming haul of warm season vegetables by applying compost and fertilizer to the soil throughout winter.
While you won’t be able to admire your beautiful garden during the winter months, you can take steps to ensure it blooms into a beautiful outdoor display when spring begins.