As the weather turns colder, now is the time to get your garden ready for the cold winter months. A little bit of foresight now can make your winter garden much more enjoyable, and can even reap rewards as the weather turns to spring. Here are five steps for preparing your garden for winter.
1. PLANT COLD WEATHER FRIENDLY PLANTS
Not all plants die or go dormant when cold weather strikes. In fact, some plants thrive in cooler weather. To keep some color and life in your garden as winter approaches, think about adding some cold weather plants. Plants like pansies and mums flourish in cooler temperatures and can even stand up a frost. Having plants like these in your garden will add variety and much needed color to your winter garden.
2. THINK ABOUT BULBS
Planting bulbs is an exercise in delayed gratification, but it is worth it in the long run. Now is the time to plant bulbs like tulips, hyacinth, and daffodils. And you don’t have to stop at plants. You can also plant vegetables like garlic and shallots. A little work now in late fall means your garden will come alive with beautiful flowers (and yummy vegetables) in the spring.
3. ADD A COVER CROP
Planting cover crops is a smart way to keep your garden from just being bare soil during the winter months. Growing crops like rye, clover, or other quick-growing cover crops keep life in your garden while everything else lays dormant. And they have the added benefit of being able to be tilled into the soil to add nutrients.
4. CLEAN UP YOUR LAWN
Now is the time to clean up your lawn before the weather gets too cold. Rake up leaves so that they don’t smother your grass. And if you want, all of those leaves will make a great start to a compost pile. Also make time to pick up fallen fruit, cut back perennials, and remove dead annuals. Use this time to give your winter garden a neater appearance and reduce the chance of pests wintering in the debris and causing problems in the spring.
5. LEAVE SOME PLANTS ALONE
While some plants you’ll want to cut back to prepare for winter, some plants you don’t have to do anything to. Ornamental grasses and thick-stemmed plants can be left in place over the winter. They’ll add interest to your garden, and might even attract migratory birds, adding life and color to your winter landscape.