Some of you might think that when it comes to winter, you don’t need to do anything for your garden to keep it safe.
But this is simply not true.
To winterize your garden, you need to know when to winterize your garden, weed your garden, protect your garden bed, plant your bulbs in preparation for the next year, give your garden its last watering, remove any dead or diseased plants or material, put away your watering system for the winter, cover your trees and shrubs, take the tender plants inside, add mulch, and make any repairs.
Read on to find out what you might have missed in your preparations.
Know when to winterize your garden
The first thing you need to know about winterizing your garden is when to actually do it.
You should have your garden prepared for the winter before the first hard freeze occurs.
A hard freeze occurs when the temperature falls below freezing overnight.
So you will want to make sure all of your winterizing happens before the first freeze.
If you don’t catch it soon enough, then next year you’ll find you have to start all over with your garden.
Make sure to check the weather report and prepare for the first freeze.
Weed your garden
Of course, weeding your garden doesn’t need to be a “right before winter” kind of thing.
You should make sure that you are weeding your garden all through the spring, summer, and fall.
But right before the winter is the best time to do it as well.
What happens if you don’t weed your garden?
Weeds thrive when they are left in the ground.
When they are left in the ground, they continue to grow.
And then eventually they are able to drop seeds to the ground so more weeds are going to grow.
Hence why it is so important to weed your garden.
But more so before the winter comes.
Because when the winter comes the same thing is going to happen, but the weeds will have all winter to dig into the ground and establish themselves in wait for the spring to come.
So make sure to weed your garden before the winter comes and the ground becomes too hard to pull out the weeds
Plant your bulbs in preparation for the next year
In the case that you want beautiful bulbs in your garden for the springtime, just before winter is the best time to plant them.
With bulbs, you need to dig a few inches into the ground to keep the bulbs protected from the winter weather.
And it is much easier to dig a hole in the ground while the ground is still soft before the frost comes.
So to winterize your bulbs in your garden, dig the hole and plant the bulbs before the winter comes.
Then, when spring comes around, you just have to wait and watch for the springs to come up.
Give your garden its last watering
Once the winter comes, you will not want to continue watering your plants.
First, this is because you don’t want to ruin your pipes or hoses that might be watering your garden (we will cover this more later on in this blog).
Second, when you stop watering your garden, it signals to your plants that they should go dormant.
And going dormant means the plants are going to start shutting down and not working so hard to stay alive.
That way, when the first frost comes, it won’t affect your plants so much because they already started shutting down.
So once you know that the first frost is coming, give your plants their last drink and then put your watering stuff away.
Remove any dead or diseased plants or material
Just like weeding, this is something you should be doing on a regular basis.
Though it is probably the most important to do right before the winter comes.
You see, pests and bugs can sometimes use dead vines and plants as a place to put their eggs in preparation for the winter.
As we will discuss later on, you typically will put a cover over your garden to protect your plants and to keep any heat the plants give off with the plants.
But this also makes the garden a perfect place for your pests and bugs to store their eggs.
Since there is a little bit of heat and protection, the eggs will stay ready for the spring to come.
So that is why it is so important that you clear away anything that will not do you any good in the next season.
First, look for dead plants.
This should be pretty easy to spot because the leaves have all turned a darker brown color or the plant has fallen over before it could no longer sustain its life.
The diseased plants may be a little harder to find, but not completely impossible.
Diseases usually affect certain parts of the plant or only particular areas of the plant.
This would mean that one area might be all brown or a yellow color because it is infected.
Some of these diseases include the following:
- Black spot – as you would guess, these show as black spots on the leaves and typically occur when plants have been rained on for over 6 hours or more and haven’t had a chance to dry. Most commonly found on rose bushes.
- Other leaf spots – this also occurs in wet and warm conditions. Start as spots on the leaves and then can grow bigger until the spots become splotches.
- Powdery mildew – shows as a powdery mildew on the leaves and mostly affects plants that are left in shady areas. Affects plants, flowers, vegetables and fruits.
- Downy mildew – looks like gray, cotton like downy substance on the top of the leaf. Appears in cool, moist weather in early spring or late fall.
- Blight – looks like spores on the plant and can be present through windy conditions and can rapidly spread. No cure exists.
- Canker – looks much like a canker sore would look in your mouth. Shows primarily on plants in woody areas.
All of these can quickly spread through your garden, so as you are preparing for the winter, make sure to look for plants for any of these diseases and get rid of them quickly.
And remember to throw the plants out in your garbage and not in your compost pile, otherwise, you will just end up re-infecting all of your plant life.
Put away your watering system for the winter
As mentioned previously, you will want to get your watering system ready for the coming winter.
Otherwise, you’ll end up with broken pipes and some leaking water that you have to take care of, and that could become expensive.
So depending on where your water comes from will determine how you shut down your system.
If your water comes from a green box somewhere in your yard, you will want to turn the water off at the green box before the winter sets in.
If the water is coming out of your house, you will want to search for the place inside your house where the shut-off valve exists (most likely somewhere near your water heater and will have a pipe that leads out to where you get your water).
Once you find the shut-off valve, turn off the water.
Otherwise, water will sit in the pipes and when they freeze, it could burst the pipes.
Or, someone could accidentally turn the water on, which could therefore lead to burst pipes or a backyard filled with water during the winter.
So once you have the water shut off, you will want to take care of any hosing that isn’t in the ground.
If the pipes are in the ground, you don’t need to worry much about them since they will be protected by the dirt on top of it.
But if you have hoses, grab one end of the hose and then start wrapping the hose around your arm.
Be careful of the other end of the hose.
As you are wrapping it up, water will start coming out of the other end.
Then store the hoses away into a warm place, otherwise, you will have to replace your hoses each year.
You will also want to blow all the water out of your piping system, so contact a local plumber to accomplish this.
Doing this yourself might cause damage to your watering system.
Cover your trees and shrubs
Just like your plants, you need to spend some time covering your trees and shrubs in preparation for the winter.
You can purchase a winter cover here.
The cover will protect your tree and/or shrub from any animals that might want to take cover in the tree or shrub.
You might also have some bugs that will try to use for your trees or shrubs for cover as well.
So if you can get ahead of it, you will do quite a bit for protecting your trees and shrubs.
This will also protect them from the cold and snow that might occur in your area.
If the tree is too young and it gets too cold, the tree might end up dying.
But if you give it some coverage, then that will help it survive during the winter season.
Take the tender plants inside
You might have some tender plants in your garden.
These plants might include but are not limited to, sweet peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and melon.
If you want these plants for your garden, you typically start them inside your house for a few weeks or months before you take them outside.
And then once they are outside, they should be able to thrive pretty well throw the spring, summer, and fall.
But once it gets close to wintertime, if you want these plants to last for the next year, you need to bring them inside.
And it should be relatively easy to dig them out of the ground.
First, make sure you have a pot you are going to move the plants too.
Then fill up the pot about halfway with soil.
Slowly and carefully dig with a spade about 6 inches away from the base of the plant until you can gently take the base out of the ground.
Then place the plant into the pot and fill it up with soil the rest of the way.
Take the plant inside and put it in a warm place that might get some sunlight during the winter season.
Then, because the plant into going into hibernation, continue to water it while it is inside the house.
If you do this correctly, then by next season, you should be able to move your plant back outside into the garden.
Make any repairs
Depending on the type of garden you have, you might take some time to make any necessary repairs.
If you have a garden box, this might mean checking the screws to make sure they are tightened and replacing any of the screws that have rusted or fallen apart.
This could also include removing any broken hoses or pipes from the area.
Make check all the sprinklers and make sure they are all working as you would expect.
Lastly, check any fencing you might have around your garden.
All the work of covering and protecting your garden might all go to waste if there is a hole in your fence.
So make sure your garden is in generally good condition.
Protect your garden bed
After you’ve done all of the above, you will want to make sure you protect the garden.
This includes covering it to protect it from frost and snow.
There are a few options you have to cover your garden bed.
The first of these is a net covering.
You can purchase one of these here.
The net covering first and foremost protects against frost and snow.
Second, it allows whatever heat the plants are giving off to stay with the plants.
Since it is covered, the heat stays there instead of continuing to go up into the sky.
Third, it keeps any critters and anything else out that might try to come in and either eat the plants or ruin them in some way.
A second option is to cover your plants with mulch.
The nice thing about using mulch is you can really use any number of things you can find around your yard, including leaves, pine needles, or grass clippings.
This way, you don’t have to spend money to take care of your plants.
And the same reasoning exists here and did for the net covering, it keeps the heat with the plants and also protects them from frost and snow during the winter season.
If you take care of your garden each year before the winter, it will be so worth it for you.
The garden will continue to give to you year in and year out and you will be thankful you took the time to make sure everything is in order.
So make sure to water your garden one last time, get rid of any dying or diseased plants, put away the watering system, cover your plants and trees, making any necessary repairs, and plants your bulbs for the next year.