How to prepare your garden for the winter season? 6 tips to follow
How to prepare your garden for the winter season? 6 tips to follow
The winter season is slowly but steadily approaching. That means it’s time to think about all the ways to prep your garden for the cold months. From garden clearance to mulching and maintenance, your backyard needs care and attention to survive the harsh weather conditions.
Preparing your garden for winter is crucial for keeping it alive, but it takes a lot of time and effort. Here you can read some important tips you can follow to make this process much easier.
Why do you need to prepare your garden for the winter season?
Winter garden prep is super important. Especially when you have newly planted trees and greens in your garden. Young plants are developing, growing roots and getting accustomed to the ground soil. Drastic weather changes in winter could be rather stressful and directly affect the well-being of the garden greenery and soil quality.
The best time to prepare your garden for the winter season is late fall. That is when temperatures start to drop drastically, but first snow and frost are still not expected soon. Even though gardens usually look dull during that time of the year, there is a lot to do in terms of garden maintenance before the soil freezes.
Keep on reading to learn more about the tasks that will give your garden a boost for the next season!
6 tips to follow
1. Store all vegetables
First and foremost, you need to make sure all edibles are harvested and safely stored away for winter. Note that different types of vegetables have different tolerance levels for frost and cold. However, when it comes to a harsh season like winter, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here are a few vital tips that could help you navigate:
Due to their low tolerance to cold, tender vegetables should be harvested before the first frost and have the plants cleaned out of crop debris. Discard all dead and diseased plants as garden waste. Don’t leave them in the garden and avoid adding infected plants to the compost bin.
List of tender vegetables:
Hardy vegetables can survive outdoors, in the garden, in winter. These types of edibles tolerate frosts, so you can leave them in the ground for the whole season. Some of these veggies even have better flavour qualities after a frost.
List of hardy vegetables:
- Brussels sprouts
These types of vegetables will endure light frosts. So if you live in a mild climate area – you can leave them be for the winter season. Just make sure the crops are protected (with a row cover, hay pile, etc). Yet, if your local winter is quite harsh, it might be a good idea to harvest them in late autumn.
Even though they are underground, root vegetables and potatoes can be left in the garden at the beginning of winter but should be harvested before the ground freezes.
List of semi-hardy vegetables:
No matter what type of vegetables you grow in your garden, make sure the ones you harvest are stored properly. Preserve some in a freezer, others can be canned or simply put away for recent consumption.
2. Prepare the trees
Trees are more than just shade in the summer months, fruits and blooms in fall and spring, and an all-year-round decor for your backyard. They need care, attention, and maintenance in winter, just as much as any other part of your garden.
There are three main things you need to remember about tree preparation for winter:
- Harvest at the end of autumn
- Avoid pruning right before the winter season
- Protect trees from frost and snow by covering/wrapping them
Since we already covered the harvesting topic, it’s safe to proceed to the next steps in prepping your trees for winter.
Trimming and pruning of trees and shrubs should be done way before the first frost hits. Winter cutting is not advised, because plants need time to recover after being pruned.
Pruning stimulates new growth. And that new fresh growth won’t be able to survive the cold, resulting in ill trees’ health. Also, since the process is removing tissue, there would barely be enough time for the wound to heal.
So even if your trees look overgrown or withered, leave them be. Waiting until spring is probably the best decision you could make for their long-term well-being.
Tree wrapping and covering
Before it snows, make sure your trees are protected from frost and snow. There are a few classic ways to cover trees in your garden in winter:
- A shelter construction over small trees and shrubs
- A structure made of tall stakes surrounding the tree, with wrapped burlap or plastic around the stakes, secured with twine
- A wire fence cylinder around the trees, with shredded leaves or straw filling in between
- Tree wrap
The traditional tree covering is a viable way to protect the large plants from pests, reduce erosion caused by snow and rain, and prevent bark damage.
If you decide to go with tree wrapping instead, make sure to use pest-proof tree wrap material and only shelter the trunk.
This is one of the best methods to preserve young trees from pest infestation and winter injury. Wrap also prevents premature thawing and bark splitting due to drastic temperature and weather changes.
Extra advice: If you want to get a live Christmas tree this winter, dig a proper hole for the tree before the ground freezes. Mark the hole and store away the dig-up soil where it won’t freeze, so you can use it later to transplant the evergreen holiday tree in your garden.
3. Clean up all deceased plants
Removing withered and unhealthy plants is a must for winter garden preparation. Ignoring this crucial winter gardening step might result in rapid disease and fungus spread, and could attract unwanted pests to your backyard.
Before the cold hits, you have to locate the problematic areas in your garden where plants are getting infected, showing signs of disease, or withering fast. That way, you can act fast and clean them up for good. So in spring, you get to enjoy only healthy new growth.
Remember to only remove crops that spread diseases. If you have other spent plants that don’t look diseased, you can leave them be. They will enrich the soil with nutrients, provide soil protection and decrease erosion over the winter.
4. Cover the garden beds
Covering garden beds helps to protect the soil and garden plants in the winter months.
For veggie gardens, covering beds with a layer of plastic cover/wrap or cardboard until spring is a great approach. Such a measure protects crops from pests, smothers weeds, and subdues seeds.
An alternative option to enriching and protecting the soil is planting cover crops. Some of the best cover crops for winter are winter rye, hairy vetch, crimson clover, and winter wheat. Before sowing cover crops, research which one(s) will survive the winter in your area.
Adding compost, manure or organic enhancements on top of the beds could be done in spring, but it is better if you do it at the end of fall. That way, over the winter, the soil is able to soak up all the nutrients, ready to embrace and grow new healthy plants next season.
The essential factor to have in mind when enriching the soil for winter is to do it before the ground freezes.
Add mulching to your to-do list for a winter garden prep!
Replenishing mulch in the winter months is just as beneficial as mulching during warm seasons. Mulch regulates the temperature and moisture level of the soil, making season transition less harsh and plant adaptation easier.
A thick layer of mulch keeps the soil and roots protected from external aggressors and pests. It also reduces water loss, stops weed spread and development, and shields soil from freezing and erosion.
We also have to mention that if you use 100% organic mulch (staws, wood chips, grass clippings, pine needles etc), it will eventually start to break down. During that process, it will slowly release fresh material that further enriches the soil.
As a result, the life of your healthy plants is extended throughout the whole cold, snowy and frosty season.
6. Do maintenance
When it comes to prepping your garden for winter, you have to make time for seasonal maintenance chores.
Here is a quick sum-up of all the major Dos and Don’ts in winter garden preparation:
- Garden clearance (remove debris and rubbish)
- Dig up your annual plants & add them to your compost pile or dispose of them accordingly
- Mow your lawn before the first snow to grow fresh-looking grass in spring
- Rake or remove fallen autumn leaves from your lawn (dispose of them, add them to your compost bin, or pile them up to turn into mulch)
- Protect your compost pile from frost and snow by covering it with a plastic cover
- Empty the fuel tanks of your power gear (jet washer, lawnmower, etc)
- Empty all outdoor containers and store them upside down to avoid cold cracks
- Drain the water from your watering systems and disconnect drip or soaker hoses
- Clean, sharpen, oil, and put away your gardening tools to prevent rusting and cold damage
- Store away sprinklers, nozzles, and watering gear in a sheltered area like a shed, storage box, or garage
- Cover your pond, pool, or other landscape water feature
- Put away saved seeds for next season
Make sure to perform proper garden maintenance before the winter starts. That way, your outdoor space will endure all the seasonal challenges the cold harsh weather has in store.
If all this work and hassle seems too much or you could barely find time for regular garden tasks, then our Professional Gardening team would be glad to assist. Our gardening experts in London have the needed knowledge and experience to help you prepare your garden for winter.
Get in touch with us to get a quote!