Tips for Preparing Your Garden for the Winter Months

Posted by Steph Kaye on Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 at 10:25am.

The air outside is getting chilly, the leaves are crisp and colored, and despite the fact that there’s still time to soak up the warmer weather of fall, everyone knows that “Game of Thrones” adage to be true: Winter is coming. Based on where you live, winter could be much different for to you someone who lives south or to the west, but down below are a few basic tips to help anyone out in this yearly transition. Its that time to start preparing you gardens for the cold months ahead.

1. Prune to give protection

Fall is time to take into consideration protecting your garden—and the best possible tactics to do this is to do a thorough pruning of the existing plants.

“You want to get rid of anything diseased or insect-infested, because those can, over winter, infect your other plants,” says Melinda Myers, a gardening professional and the host of the “How to Grow Anything” DVD series. So uproot those annuals and trim the perennials back to the bottom. To find out the correct method to dispose of these items depending on your municipality, too—in most places, backyard waste has a unique disposal procedure.

Should you be dealing with more of a lawn than a garden scenario, the trick is to keep mowing your grass. Why? It is going to build up its winter hardiness so you've got a more lush lawn come spring.

2. Plant a couple of new things

Fall is in fact a beautiful time to consider planting, and for taking a look at some of the seasonal plant sales for inspiration.

“The air is cooler but the soil is still warm,” notes Myers. “For Northerners, that warm soil promotes root growth, while the cooler air is less stressful for plants. We tend to think of bulbs this time of year, but it’s also a great time to put in shrubs and even perennials. For warmer climates, you may be transitioning from summer crops to fall ones.”

For those who revel in observing the wildlife in your backyard, planting a couple of ornamental grasses, trees, or shrubs with berries, or perennials—anything that has seedpods and may provide food for birds—will increase the variety of wildlife on the property.

3. Make sure plants stay warm

In case you have vegetables or herbs and wish to proceed reaping the benefits, Myers suggests protecting them throughout the first hard freeze. You'll be able to do this a few ways: First, bring in cuttings from nonhardy plants ahead of the first frost, root them, and develop them in a sunny window. Second, cover up the plants within the ground outside.

“Sheets work great,” Myers says. “You can cover them up late afternoons or evenings to trap the heat. But my favorite solution is using floating row covers, which trap heat but allow in light, air, and water. You can cover them and leave them on until the snow falls. I threw them on shallots, radishes, and spinach, and harvested greens that spring. And I’m in Wisconsin! It was great.”

Who knows? With a couple of of these easy steps, you could be consuming salad fresh out of your garden again by means of April.

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