Preparing Your Garden for the Winter

by Bernard Snelling
(Minnesota, USA)

If you live in a colder area of the country like I do, you will want to start preparing your garden for the winter when temperatures start to drop and the leaves begin to fall.

Many people believe that when the weather starts getting colder, it's time to put away the gardening tools and wait until next spring to work on their garden again.

Personally I think that winter is an important time to maintain your garden's health and assure yourself of a good crop for the following year.

You may think that it takes too long to prepare your garden. The reality is that it takes a lot less time than you might imagine to prepare your garden for the upcoming winter.

When the night time temperatures drop to less than forty-five degrees fahrenheit for several days in a row, or frost is forecast for your area (usually around late October or November depending on where you're located) you know it's time to begin preparing your garden.

You should begin by reviewing your garden design, check which plants grew well in the past season, and which plants did not do well. Fall is a good time to decide which plants will remain in you garden next year, and which ones should go.

It is also a good time to decide which new plants you want to grow. To make your garden more colorful and healthy, be sure only to plant the more hardy plants during the fall so that they can withstand the winter.

Some plants that will do fine being planted in fall are: rudbeckia, aster novi-belgii, anemone japonica, panicle hyandea, endive, escarole, and brussels sprouts.

Winter Cleanup

Begin by pulling out weeds that may have cropped up, and rake fallen leaves. Weeds and rotten leaves can carry insects and diseases that might be harmful to your garden.

You should also rid your garden of spent annual plants, and harvest your vegetables and other plants that cannot withstand the winter weather. After fall has come and gone, the leaves will be off your trees and you can see any damaged or rotten branches that need removing.

If you have young trees you should consider wrapping them and supporting them with stakes to help them survive the winter wind and cold. Putting mulch over your garden for the winter can be a helpful way to protect plants from sudden temperature changes and heavy snow.

Once you are finished with your gardening tools you should clean them and make sure they are in a storage shed or garage where they won't rust and you know where they'll be for next year. Before winter comes you should always set out slug repellent, as slugs are one of the worst bugs to have in your garden.

If you have a pool or fountain in your garden, be sure to take that it doesn't freeze over. There’s nothing sadder than a your cherished fish being frozen in a block of ice.

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