How to Prepare Your Garden for Winter

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Another gardening season has come and gone. With colder temperatures slowly approaching, now is the perfect time to prepare your gardens for winter. This is often a neglected process that can leave things a mess come springtime.

It’s beneficial to take the proper steps to get your plot ready for next year. Here are some helpful ways you can prepare your garden for winter.

Harvest Remaining Vegetables

If you still have vegetables left in your garden, be sure to harvest them. Some plants can withstand a frost, but others cannot. If a frost hasn’t yet hit your location, you should take action and harvest any softer vegetables that won’t survive the colder temperatures. These include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Squash
  • Pumpkins
  • Lettuce

Hardier vegetables tolerate light frosts. Some examples of hardy veggies are broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and root crops like potatoes or carrots. You may even want to wait to harvest these plants until a frost hits because it can make them tastier.

Once you gather the produce, remove the root system or leaves from your garden and burn or throw out any diseased plants.

Weed the Garden

Part of maintaining a garden includes spending time pulling weeds to ensure your plants can grow and won’t be overwhelmed by intruders. Just as it is essential to weed your garden during the growing season, it is just as important you get rid of them before winter hits.

Failing to pull out the weeds will result in future problems. Once the roots establish, they stay in your garden and will come up the next year. Weeds carry diseases that may harm future plants, so make sure to remove every bit of it, including the leaves, stem and roots.

Sometimes, there are too many weeds for one person to handle. In that case, use black plastic or cardboard to cover the areas where weeds have gone out of control. This will suffocate them, and no new ones will grow.

Strengthen the Soil

Do everything you can to make less work for yourself once planting time comes around in the spring. One of those tasks is preparing your soil for new growth.

Adding in compost, manure and other organic materials allows for more nutrient-rich soil. The materials have time over the winter to mesh and make great soil for growing. The repeated freezing and thawing will do the work for you throughout the winter.

To ensure that your garden is protected from poor drainage, consider tilling the soil to work in the added material and then covering it with mulch and plastic sheets. Additionally, any drainage from driveways or sidewalks — as a result of storms and melting snow — can ruin your gardens. You may want to install a catch basin if your in-ground gardens are near those places.

Look After Your Perennials, Shrubs and Trees

Depending on what types of perennials, shrubs or trees you cultivate, some might benefit from a fall pruning. Always double-check that you don’t prune any plants that may be harmed if they’re cut back in the fall.

Consider adding tree wraps to keep rodents from chewing on the bark, which could kill them or make it difficult to recover from the winter. Additionally, wrapping trees can prevent injuries to the bark caused by the continual freezing and thawing.

Harsher winters and heavy snowfalls may damage your trees and shrubs, so if you live in an area with severe weather conditions, you may want to cover your plants with a wooden structure or chicken wire.

Maintain Garden Tools

In addition to preparing your gardens for winter, you should also prepare your garden tools for the spring. Some last-minute tasks to get you ready for the following season include:

  • Turning off your water: Those who live in cooler climates should turn off their water and bring their hose indoors to prevent cracking or frozen pipes.
  • Feeding the birds: Birds help your garden by eating thousands of insects and seeds from weeds. You’ll want them to stick around.
  • Cleaning and sharpening tools: Clean all your garden tools and equipment so it lasts and works its best for years to come.

Complete these tasks to make your springtime preparations easier so you can begin gardening sooner. Once the sun comes out again, you’ll have a lovely garden to enjoy, whether that’s from relaxing on your deck or from strolling through the yard.

Are You Ready for Spring?

Get your garden ready for winter to ensure springtime success. By the time spring comes around, you will be well prepared to plant new fruits and vegetables and enjoy your harvest.

About The Author: Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, a magazine for home improvement and décor advice. More of her work can be found on Twitter.
Photo by Elaine Casap on Unsplash

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