Spring might be far off, and difficult to envision, but it will arrive eventually. Fall and early winter provide a great break to think about how to prepare for your spring garden. Doing the footwork now to clean, protect, and nurture the soil and landscape, will create a healthy foundation for all to appreciate when the sun gets higher in the sky.
Hungry wildlife poses the greatest threat to your peaceful green space. As temperatures plummet, snow piles high, and winds howl, deer and other furry creatures are desperate for food and shelter. A deer fence is the perfect solution and an ideal hack to humanely protecting your greenery while gently deterring them safely to other areas.
Clear away any leaves that have fallen into your garden space. Leaves that are clean (free of disease) can be shredded by using the lawnmower or through a leaf shredder. Use the shredded leaves as mulch. The smaller surface area will allow for greater air circulation and water drainage to nourish your garden throughout winter. It will also prevent the leaves from packing together and creating a smothering blanket, as well as a den for small woodland creatures.
Remove the weeds
The best course of action is to use natural weed killers – those that are non-toxic and pose no threat to the environment. This is good for not only the plants growing in the garden in the future, but also your family who will be consuming the harvest. You may also want to consider natural weed preventers, which don’t allow weed seeds to germinate. Just be certain that the one you choose is safe for your lawn, and remember that weed preventers don’t work on existing weeds.
After a few frosts, cut back the perennials that don’t provide any winter interest and are likely to harbor insects or disease over the winter. These include bearded iris, peonies, and geraniums. For shrubs and trees, cut back any limbs that are crossing, as they could cause damage to themselves in high winds, and weak limbs that are in danger of snapping.
Shield under-the-eave plants
Any plants that are located under roofs or eave lines will take on more than their share of precipitation over the winter, so shield them by building teepee structures for protection.
Wrap fragile shrubs
Plants and shrubs that are newly planted or are especially delicate should be wrapped. Gale force, dry winds can cause tremendous damage and create a shrub that is brittle and weak, if they are not properly protected. Look into burlap or products like shrub covers to help give them the defense they need through this intense season.
Water young root systems
If there are newly planted trees and bushes in your garden or green space, continue to water them consistently, until the ground freezes. Provide these plantings with one last watering before the ground is completely frozen. It should help them get through the winter, which causes tremendous dehydration in plants.
Consider spraying a plant protector
Evergreens and other plants can get a boost from spraying them with an anti-transpirant. When applied to the leaves, moisture loss is reduced, and the plant is protected against wind burn and dehydration.
One last lawn mow
The last lawn mowing of the season should take the grass down to 2-3”, as this will allow the grass to be resistant to fungus and other diseases once the area is covered in snow.
Apply fall fertilizer
Give your lawn a fighting chance by applying a fall fertilizer. Choose a fertilizer that is slow release and eco-friendly, to sow the seeds of a beautiful lawn and garden area when winter ends.
Protect valuable hedges
When the wind is frigid and snow gathers, hedge shrubs may get the brunt of the winter abuse. Protect them by wrapping the whole row or craft a windbreak with stakes and protective fabric.
Perennials manage better when there is consistent cold, rather than a fluctuation in temperature. When you apply mulch to your perennial beds, even if it’s after the first frost, you will be protecting them from fluctuating ground temperatures. It’s important to know there are two types of mulch, organic and Inorganic. As you can already presume, the organic type consists of materials like pine needles, shredded bark, sawdust, and the inorganic contains geotextiles and black plastic. Depending on where you live some companies can even deliver the mulch directly to your door. For example, Ebyland provides mulch supply and delivery in Frostburg, MD, and many other states and cities.
Lay down lime
Lawns prefer to be alkaline, and horticultural lime encourages soil alkalinity. The natural thawing and freezing cycle of winter breaks down lime pellets and helps work them into the soil over time.
With just a little bit of effort and planning, you can keep your gorgeous green space healthy throughout the brutal winter, and look forward to enjoying a satisfying and healthy garden in the spring.