With fall in full swing, now is the time when you want to prepare your garden for winter, because what you do now will have a big impact on how your garden bounces back next spring. Winterizing your garden is crucial for setting your garden up for the warmer months.
10 Steps to Prepare Your Garden for Winter
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about winterizing plants and getting your soil and tools ready for the spring thaw. Here are ten steps you should take with your garden to get it ready for winter.
Remove the Dead Plants
Removing the dead plants from your garden is essential because old plants can carry destructive diseases and fungi that will go dormant in winter and reawaken in the spring. If you leave them planted in your garden, then there’s a good possibility for the diseases to spread to next year’s crops.
Clear Away Invasive Weeds
If weeds were a problem this year, then you will want to make sure you clear them out of your garden before winter. You’ll also want to avoid putting them in your compost pile, because many species of invasive plants will remain alive despite being composted. To protect your garden, remove them completely from the property.
Add Nutrients to Your Garden Soil
Fall is a great time to add nutrients like manure, compost, bone meal, kelp, and rock phosphate to your garden’s soil because it gives these materials time to break down and become biologically active. If you wait until spring, the soil won’t be as nutrient-dense come planting season.
Plant Fall Cover Crops
You might think that leaving your garden clean is best for winter, but planting fall-friendly cover crops like clover or rye is a great way to keep the soil aerated, and it further helps by preventing erosion. Plant them at least one month before the first killing frost, and you’ll also be adding additional nutrients to the soil.
Trim Away Perennials
If your garden has perennial herbs in it like rosemary, thyme, and sage, or vegetables like asparagus, fennel, and rhubarb, then pruning them in fall will help them come back stronger and healthier next year. Just make sure the perennials you choose can withstand a fall pruning, as some do better with spring pruning, like blueberries and raspberries.
Harvest for Compost
When you clear the leaves out of your garden, don’t bag them. Instead, add them to your compost pile along with straw, sawdust, and all of your suitable kitchen scraps. This will help boost your compost pile’s microbes through the winter, so you’ll have nutrient-rich compost come spring.
Want to add a splash of color to your garden in early spring? Then now is the time you want to start planting tulip, daffodil, and crocus bulbs. If you enjoyed watching these plants grow this year, then now is also the time you want to dig up the bulbs, divide them, and plant them again.
Add Mulch to the Garden
If you only mulch in the summer, then you might want to change your habits because adding mulch to the garden before winter arrives delivers the same benefits to your garden. It helps regulate soil temperature and moisture, and helps it deal with the freezing/thawing conditions. It also adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down over winter.
Prepare Your Tools for Spring
Before you store your garden tools away for winter, give them a thorough cleaning and sharpen any tools that need it. Then, give the metal parts of the tools a wipe-down using a cloth and light machine oil to help keep rust from developing over winter. This will extend the life of your tools and ensure they’re ready to go when you are in the spring. Review the instruction manual on your lawnmower, and retire this for the winter season in your toolshed or garage.
Review the Growing Season’s Results and Plan for Next Year
Now that the growing season is over, take a moment and reflect on the year’s harvest. Which plants performed well, and which didn’t? Should you have planted certain crops in different zones? Are there different crops you want to try next year? What impact did the weather have on your garden? Finding out the answers to these and other questions will help you prepare for next spring and hopefully see even better results.