With winter just around the corner, it’s a good idea to start preparing your garden for the cold months ahead.
While it’s easy to assume that your garden will be safe under a blanket of snow, taking the effort to clean up your garden in fall could mean fewer pests, weeds, and fungus, next year.
Plus, it can reduce the amount of work during next year’s spring frenzy!
Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! Here are 6 tips to help you prepare your garden for winter:
Prepare Your Garden for Winter #1: Clear Out Flower Beds and Finished Plants
First thing first: it’s time to clear out your old flowers and plants.
If you look around your garden, you’ll likely find plants and flowers that didn’t quite live up to your expectations. Maybe you have some tulip bulbs that never bloomed or succulents that got a little too much water – we’ve all been there!
If there’s anything old, rotting, or dead in your garden, you should remove it as soon as possible.
These plants and flowers can harbor pests, diseases, and funguses that can be harmful to your garden and could cause further damage come spring.
The best way to remove them is to use a spade or shovel to dig at least six inches down and work your way around the plant, including the roots.
Another option is to bury them in your garden trenches, which will add organic matter to the soil and help improve the overall health of your garden.
Prepare Your Garden for Winter #2: Disconnect Your Garden Hoses From the Faucet
The next step is to unscrew your outdoor garden hoses from faucets – but make sure to do this well before the ground freezes!
If you leave it too late, the water that remains in the hose can freeze and leak inside your exterior walls. In extreme cases, the water could freeze and expand causing the faucet or pipes to crack.
It’s also important to turn off any valves on your water supply line that lead to the exterior faucets – otherwise, water may continue to leak out and eventually break both the fixture and shut-off valve when it freezes.
Many outdoor faucets will also have indoor safety valves that allow you to drain the water from the outdoor pipes, reducing the chance of your pipes bursting if any water freezes.
Most often, this valve can be found in your basement, garage, or crawl space. Once you find it, you can shut off the water supply to your outside faucet by turning the knob clockwise until it stops turning.
To take it a step further, we recommend installing Notion Sensors next to basement windows and floors to detect any water leaks or other water-related issues. If something is detected, you’ll get a notification directly on your smartphone so you can quickly address the issue before it becomes a problem.
Prepare Your Garden for Winter #3: Shelter Trees and Shrubs with Burlap
From ice storms to heavy snowfalls, winter can take a toll on your trees and shrubs.
That’s why it’s best to make sure they’re protected and ready for the forces of winter.
To protect new plants, it’s best to surround them with a 2 to 4-inch blanket of mulch. This will help moderate temperature changes and protect the plants from the winter wind and snow.
This will act as a simple windbreak and sun protector for the fluctuations in winter weather. It will also prevent any branches from breaking or being damaged from a heavy snowfall or ice storm.
For further protection, you can also add a generous layer of mulch beneath the trees or shrubs.
Prepare Your Garden for Winter #4: Prepare Your Soil for Spring
While preparing your soil for gardening is most commonly a spring activity, preparing your soil in the fall can help protect and speed up the process come spring.
At this time of the year, it’s important to enrich your soil with nutrients such as manure, compost, bone meal, rock phosphate, and kelp.
This will help break down the soil and allow it to become more biologically active, and by taking this step, you’ll already have done some of the work once spring hits.
It’s important that once you’ve added any nutrients to cover the bed of soil with a sheet of plastic or other covering to help protect the soil for the winter.
Another tip is to aerate your lawn before the frost rolls in. This will also help strengthen the soil.
If you want your grass to look lush once the snow melts, aerating your lawn now can help improve the soil by allowing nutrients, air, and water to seep into the roots.
Prepare Your Garden for Winter #5: Drain Your Sprinkler System
In addition to removing your garden hoses from the faucets, it’s important to drain your sprinkler systems to avoid any damage to the pipes and sprinkler heads.
Similarly to the garden hoses, once the ground starts to freeze, it can cause the buried irrigation lines to freeze and burst.
To avoid this, you’ll need to first shut-off the water supply at the main valve and shut-off the automatic controller. Next, you’ll need to drain the values and water from the irrigation system.
Lastly, you’ll need to remove the above-ground sprinkler heads and remove any excess water.
Remember that all irrigation systems are different and yours may require an irrigation pro to blow out the sprinkler system’s pipes with compressed air.
If you’re unsure about whether or not you need this service, it’s best to consult with a professional.
Prepare Your Garden for Winter #6: Make the Final Cut
When it comes to cutting your grass for the last time of the year, timing everything!
If you don’t trim your grass before the snow and frost arrive, your lawn could develop “snow mold,” a type of fungus and a turf disease that damages or kills grass after snow melts. If snow mold develops, your grass can become matted and discolored.
Ultimately, you want to leave your grass at around 2 to 2.5 inches by the time winter comes around.
But remember: timing is everything! You want your grass to be this length before the temperature drops below 50°F during the day. This is usually in late-October or early-November – or in warmer regions, closer to the beginning of December.
It’s also important to make sure that you rake any fall leaves as they can contribute to mold buildup over the winter months.
Thanks for reading! We hope that you learned a few new ways to prepare your garden for winter.