Winter is here – get your garden ready for the cold season

Autumn is winding downtime in the backyard, but it’s also a window where you can prepare the garden for the next year’s spring. The colder temperatures make it a little uncomfortable to spend time outdoors, but for your garden to bloom in the spring, make an effort to prepare it for winter. 

Flowers and trees are nearing the end of their lifespan and starting to lose blooms and leaves due to the successively heavy frosts that come each night. After the rush of spring flower planting and the peak of summer blooming, it’s tempting to let nature take its course on your garden and take a break from working outdoors. But a few hours spent in the garden now can save your effort in the spring. 

Here are some suggestions on how to put the flowers and trees to bed for the cold season

Remove the rotting plants

Finished plants look untidy and can harbor funguses, pests, and diseases into the garden. During the summer, insects feed on your plants and ley eggs that stalk on leaves and flowers. By allowing the rotting plants to lay on the soil the entire winter, you encourage unwanted baby insects to come to life in the spring. Remove spent plants from the ground, bury the healthy ones in trenches, and burn the diseased ones. Burying old plants into the garden creates organic fertilizer that boosts the overall health of the garden. When the plants are diseased, use water extracted humic acid as an alternative for organic fertilizer.         

Cut invasive weeds

The entire summer, bindweed colonized your roses and nearly killed them. Now it’s time to hunt for the renegades in your garden and say them bye-bye. Dig all invasive weeds up, take them out of the garden, and burn them together with other autumn piles. If you add them to compost, their seeds may remain viable and colonize your garden again next year. Resist the urge to create organic compost from these weeds, and just burn them to prevent them from sprouting somewhere else. 

Bring on the bulbs

When the temperatures drop below 0° Celsius, it’s time to take out the bulbs that may freeze during winter. But it’s also the time to begin planting spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and crocus that require autumn planting to bloom in the spring. Place them 8 inches deep and in large clumps to obtain a dramatic effect when they bloom. 

Protect young trees

Pests like rabbits and mice love to dine on young trees and shrubs during winter because there’s little food available. Use plastic tree guard and chicken wire to create a protective wall around them and keep pests away. Plastic tree guard also keeps your trees free from sun-scald that makes cracks on trees’ southwest side. Sunscald often happens during cold clear winter days when the sun rays stimulate growth on the southwest side of the tree during the day. But once the sun disappears, the growth cells die and leave the bark dried and cracked.