Monday, November 2, 2009

winterizing the garden

We finally had a weekend full of sunny skies and warmer temperatures, so I got a bit more time out in the yard to clean things up and get the gardens ready for winter.  Gardeners have many different opinions about cutting plants back and mulching gardens before winter.  I prefer to cut most things back to the ground because I feel that it helps promote new growth earlier in the spring.

I also like the neat look of having everything cut and tidy, and it leaves less work to do in the already busy spring garden. 

I do leave some plants uncut, especially sedum, to add visual interest to the winter landscape.  In the front garden, I have slowly cut back plants as they lose any color or form, leaving any that still have good fall color or have kept their shape well.  This extends the life of my garden, and keeps the front of the
 house attractive until the snow flies.

The fallen leaves add to the color to the palette as well, so they won't be raked out until I do the final cuttings.  Full leaves shouldn't be left on garden beds as mulch because they can create a heavy mat on your flowers that could smother them.  I usually do not mulch my flower beds, but if you like to, chop the leaves first, then lay a thin layer on your beds.

Here is a basic list of winterizing tasks for your yard and garden.

1. remove and compost any annuals and vegetable plants
2. cut back perennials, leaving any that hold their shape for visual interest in the winter garden
3. you may also gather seeds from your perennials at this time to store for propagating next year
4. rake leaves and compost, or shred for mulching
5. compost plants from pots, empty pots, scrub and store in garage for the winter
6. dig and divide bulbs (canna, dahlia etc.) that do not overwinter, and store in a cool indoor spot
7. plant spring bulbs before the ground freezes
8. clean, sharpen and oil your garden tools before storing for the winter

Taking care of these tasks now will make for a happy spring garden and a happy spring gardener!

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