With cold weather lurking right around the corner, it’s time to clean up your outdoor areas and put your garden to bed for the winter. After you pack away the outdoor umbrellas and store patio cushions against inclement weather, turn your attention to preparing your garden to survive cool temperatures so they will flourish in the spring. Consider hiring local landscapers to help, or get in touch with your local council to ask for their advice.
While it may appear that all activity in your yard has ceased, there is still a lot going on underneath the soil. Recently transplanted shrubs and trees, hardy bulbs and newly divided perennials are still growing roots, and drawing in the moisture and nutrients surrounding them. In addition, various soil microbes are busy processing organic material, and earthworms are still digging around for sustenance.
Because the organic mulch spread during the summer months to protect the soil against the heat has now substantially broken down, it is important to spread a new, thick winter layer to protect your plants and the soil. By raking up fallen leaves and converting them to fresh mulch, you not only clean your yard up, but you keep your soil temperatures even for root development.
Consider projects during the winter which will clear your land of plants and overgrowth that might not survive. For example, you could clear out a soiled area and replace it with a new driveway complete with high quality block paving. This can be provided by a local landscaping company who will often have an arsenal of tools to tackle the job. They will also be able to offer good advice on winter landscaping and when to start planting.
In addition to basic cleanup and yard maintenance, now is the time to clean up your plants, shrubs and trees.
- Neaten your garden by cutting back dried or dead stems of perennials to remove any disease spores or pest eggs that may linger into spring. Prune them down to soil level after the first frost.
- Trim any diseased foliage from evergreen shrubs and plants and throw any questionable foliage and trimmings away.
- Rake up and toss any remaining disease-bearing mulch. Compost the remaining plant material to create an organic soil amendment. Make sure your compost piles are active and hot; inactive, cool, passive compost piles allow weed seeds to sprout and disease pathogens to multiply.
- Apply a commercially prepared leaf mulch to perennial and shrub beds to protect plant roots and to minimize the effects of extreme temperature fluctuations during repetitive freezing and thawing. Add any remaining compost created during the previous season.
- Carefully dig up and remove small, shallowly-planted or tender bulbs and store in a paper bag in a dark, cool, dry area.
- Use evergreen boughs to mulch the beds of less delicate bulbs, to prevent the soil from cracking and shifting during the winter.
Preparing Shrubs and Trees
Trim and remove any dead, diseased or low-hanging branches and discard. Rake up any fallen leaves and add to your compost heap and replace with a thick layer of mulch.
Preparing General Outdoor Areas
After all your winter yard prep and cleaning is complete, sweep any patios and walkways, and remove any debris. Clean out water features such as fountains and ponds and refill with clean water. Remove and store any chairs, furnishings or accent accessories that could be damaged by cool or wet weather; clean them, and then store them in a dry, protected area.