After the final product is picked and the last flowers have bloomed, fall reminds us that winter is fast approaching. As the temperatures drop and the days become shorter, it’s time to start prepping your garden for the cold weather ahead. Being proactive about winterizing your garden is crucial to ensure a healthy garden come spring. However, with all the steps you need to take, it’s easy to make mistakes along the way. Victoria Gerrard, La Crosse WI resident, advises against making these common mistakes when winterizing your garden:
Waiting Until The Last Minute
As the weather turns colder, it’s easy to procrastinate and put off winterizing your garden until the very last minute. But doing this can be detrimental in more ways than one. Not only is waiting an added stress factor to all other preparations you need to make, but it also leaves little time for cleaning up debris or making repairs. Instead, try to start early and ensure all tasks are completed well before the coldest days arrive. Victoria Gerrard La Crosse WI says the best time to start winterizing your garden is when the temperatures become consistently cold. This could vary by location but typically falls in late October or early November.
Not Clearing Debris
A critical step in winterizing your garden is clearing away debris, such as decaying vegetation and twigs, that can attract pests and fungus. Failing to do so can not only invite diseases like blight and mildews. Blight is a common fungal disease that can devastate your garden’s vegetation.
Debris can weaken and damage plant roots over the cold months and can also attract infestations of insects, rodents, and animals that can cause additional damage. Therefore, clearing debris before the weather turns too cold is essential.
Failing To Use Mulch
Another common mistake is not using mulch when winterizing your garden. Adding a layer of organic material not only helps reduce weeds but also helps the soil retain moisture, keeping the cold temperatures from hardening and killing plants. Additionally, because many types of mulch are slow to decompose, they can provide long-term protection for your garden.
Choose a mulch that is appropriate for your specific plants and add it around them for the best results. Plants such as trees and shrubs should have a layer of mulch 2-4 inches thick, while vegetables and annuals require only a thin layer.
Not Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Before winter arrives, it’s important to trim back overgrown trees and shrubs so that they can survive colder weather. Removing dead or diseased branches will also help keep the winter elements from infecting your garden further. Use pruning shears to cut back branches, leaving no more than one-third of the plant’s total growth.
Not Fertilizing Soil Early Enough
Fertilizing your garden after your plants are harvested is a great way to reintroduce essential nutrients for next year’s growing season. However, it should be done as early as possible to allow the soil to absorb these nutrients before the ground freezes over. If done too late, your efforts will be wasted, and you won’t get the same benefits when spring arrives.
There are multiple ways to add nutrients back into the soil. You can purchase organic fertilizers from your local garden center or compost your own material. Compost materials are great for adding essential nutrients back into the ground and can be used year-round.
Not Checking Gutters
Falling leaves, dirt, and debris can collect in your gutters if left unchecked. Blocked drains and downspouts can lead to flooding and damage your garden, roof, and home. Check your gutters before winter sets in, and be sure to remove any debris or blockages.
The best way to keep gutters clear of debris is to install guards over them, which prevent leaves and other materials from entering the gutter and keep them clear. You can also use a garden hose or a leaf blower to remove build-up from your gutters. Be sure to test your downspouts for clogs, too.
Not Disconnecting Your Garden Hose
Leaving your garden hose attached during the winter months can cause damage to both the hose and the spigot. Garden hoses should be drained and emptied before cold weather arrives and disconnected as soon as possible. This step will help prevent any costly damage caused by the freezing temperatures.
Consider adding a protective layer to your garden spigot just to be sure. Insulated covers are available to purchase, providing extra protection for your garden hose and faucet. The additional insulation layer will help prevent the cold weather from causing damage, such as bursts or cracks in the pipes or connectors.
Not Covering Containers
If you have potted plants, cover them when winter arrives. Many containers made from plastic or clay can become brittle and crack due to cold temperatures. For best results, use covers made of breathable material such as burlap or canvas to protect them from the elements. Move the containers indoors in a cool, dry place to ensure their survival.
Caring for your garden is a year-long task that rewards you with healthy plants and beautiful scenery. Taking the time to winterize your garden each year helps protect it from harsh weather conditions and ensures that you’ll have a lush oasis come springtime. Following the tips from Victoria Gerrard La Crosse WI, you can help ensure that your garden is in optimal condition when the warm months arrive. With a bit of preparation, you can ensure your garden is ready for whatever winter has in store and help ensure its health and vitality for years to come.