Nothing scares a gardener quite like the prospect of winter approaching, and the thought that all of their hard work will be thrown out the window once the temperatures drop.
While it’s true that our lawns and gardens will take a bit of damage as the colder months roll in, there’s no need to throw the rest of your year’s labor away just because it’s getting cool.
The key to succeeding in almost any situation is with preparation, and exactly the same can be said for garden and lawn care. When you know winter is on its way, there are a few simple tips you can follow to help prepare your garden so that it’s in the best position to continue to thrive even when there’s snow falling on the ground.
Before everything gets put to bed for winter, you should take some time to make your garden beds look their best. There are two great reasons for cleaning your gardens up, and one of them is simply for the aesthetic appeal that a clear garden has when it’s free from rotting plants and falling leaves.
Secondly, and most importantly, doing a clean up before winter will ensure that any old plants harboring diseases and pests are taken care of so they won’t pose a threat in the coming seasons. When you clear them out, you’re one step ahead of the pests so that when spring comes around they don’t already have a start on attacking your gardens.
Although you might not think it, this is the ideal time to start preparing for spring by helping your soil be at its best. When given the entire winter to break down and start working, you’re allowing compost and other manures to really do their best work when they’re needed most.
As an added bonus, there’s no need to wait for your garden to dry out in spring before you can apply manure as you’ve already done it in the winter.
When the temperatures drop as harshly as they do in winter, it’s natural for the soil and grass to dry out very quickly. For this reason, replenishing the mulch just before winter can be one of the best lines of defense you have.
With a thick layer of mulch, everything from the grass to your garden beds can be protected and ensure they’re healthy and ready to go in spring. When the mulch inevitably breaks down over time, it has the added advantage of providing your garden with new organic material for the soil so there’s more than just one benefit here.
Every season has its own requirements for how long your grass should be and how often you should cut it, and the time leading into winter is the most crucial. As an end goal, your last mow before winter hits should be around two inches, ensuring that this is achieved as the grass has stopped growing for the season.
A sign that it’s slowing down or stopped will be the reduced grass clippings, so keep your eyes out for this. In addition to mowing, you should remove any leaves or debris from the grass using your hands or a leaf blower, and this will help to prevent matting which then leads to mold and disease growing over winter.
To give your garden and lawn extra protection during winter, consider planting cover crops during early fall to help them through the colder months. Cover crops can include things such as rye or clover, and their main aim is to prevent the soil erosion that occurs during winter while adding nutrients at the same time.
As a general rule, plant your cover crops about one month prior to when the harsh frost will fall, as this will give it adequate time to grow and protect the soil. Different areas will have variations on the best type of crop to grow and when to plant it, so consult a local professional if you’re unsure of your garden’s needs.
Not only is caring for your garden important but so too is caring for the tools that help you do so. Because the gardening tasks inevitably slow down when winter starts rearing its ugly head, this frees up time for many gardeners to allow them to sharpen, oil and maintain their tools.
Do a simple cleaning of your tools by washing and drying them to remove dirt and debris, and take a more detailed approach to your power tools. Mowers, edgers, trimmers, and leaf blowers should all be cleaned thoroughly, have their motors checked, oil and gas changed as required, and blades sharpened or replaced.
This will keep your tool in prime condition and ready to be used when the warmer weather starts to return.
One of the most important parts of gardening, or anything worth doing in life, is preparation. With the harshness and unpredictability of winter wreaking havoc on our gardens, there’s still plenty we can do as gardeners to ensure it has as little of an impact as possible.
Just by following these simple tips and putting in some extra time now, you’ll be able to sit back and relax during winter knowing that your garden is prepared for the worst.
As soon as the warmer weather returns and conditions get more favorable for your yard, you’ll be in the best position to kick start your garden and can spend as little time as possible trying to repair any damage done during winter.