With cooler weather and few opportunities for planting, late fall is the ideal time to prep your garden for winter. Take your time and spread these to-dos over the end of the season. Come spring, your garden will be in perfect shape for planting.
- Clear away dead growth. Dead limbs, annuals that have given their all and the blackening parts of perennials should be cut away and tossed into your compost bin. This prevents dead foliage from encouraging root rot or harboring insects come spring.
- Divide plants that bloom in spring and summer and plant hardy, spring-blooming perennials. You can also collect seeds and take cuttings from annuals like coleus and begonias.
- Build any boxed or raised beds that you want for next year. Take the time to fix up your old beds, too.
- Plant a nitrogen-rich plant with shallow roots, such as clover, in empty planting beds. Filler plants keep your soil rich and weeds at bay, and they can be easily overturned and cut into the soil in the spring. A simple burlap covering will also deter weeds.
- Now is one of the best times to transplant shrubs and perennials. The roots will have time to establish before the spring growing season.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch! Mulch keeps soil temperatures even, protecting the roots of late-harvest crops, winter flowers, bulbs, trees and shrubs. Rake away any old mulch, scatter a light layer of straw or chopped leaves and top with a thick layer of fresh mulch. Make sure to keep the mulch thin around the base of trees and shrubs to deter pests. If you would rather leave the heavy lifting up to the professionals, you can get a free landscaping quote at: http://elementsdesignbuildllc.com/cherry-hill-landscaping/
- Winterize delicate plants like roses and small trees. You can use commercially available rose cones, or you can make your own covering using chicken wire or wooden stakes and burlap. Fill in around the plant loosely with leaves and puncture the covering to promote circulation.
- If you have cold-weather grass seed, fertilize your lawn. You can also seed bare patches with quick-germinating, cold weather grasses.
- Sharpen and stow away the pruning sheers except for certain circumstances. Pruning encourages new growth, and you want your plants saving their energy. Exceptions to this rule are any dead and diseased branches or limbs that could easily crack under the weight of winter snow.
- Clean, sharpen and repair garden tools. This includes supports like trellises and tomato cages as well as pots and containers. A dry, wire brush does an excellent job cleaning tools. Treat any unpainted wooden handles with a wood conditioner, such as linseed oil, to keep them in good shape. Containers should also be sterilized using hot, soapy water.
- Detach hoses from garden spigots and allow them to drain. Remove any attachments as well. Trapped water can freeze around connection points and damage your hose, causing leaks.
- Give any ponds or water features a thorough cleaning. If you have fish, make sure to skim fallen leaves out of the water regularly. The chemicals released by decaying leaves can be harmful to your fish.
With your garden ready for winter, you can sit back, relax and stow away energy for spring planting season!