Winter Garden Care Tips
(guest post by Valerie Smith)
Preparing your garden for winter is a crucial step for ensuring healthy growth in the spring. The below winter garden care tips will help you get your garden ready for the coldest time of the year.
Whether it be a vegetable garden, flower boxes or even backyard trees, the cold temperatures of winter can have a harsh effect on your gardening space.
Additionally, many harmful insects may infest your garden through the winter months, consequently damaging your plants in the spring. To promote healthy plant growth next year, it’s important to prepare your garden for the coming winter season.
In this article, we’ll walk you through winter garden care tips to protect your landscape as temperatures begin to drop.
1. Remove Weeds
Over the winter months, many weeds and spent crops in your garden may create a haven for harmful insects and pests. Thus, it’s important to remove weeds from your garden before winter hits.
Removing weeds eliminates hiding spots for pests and is effective for garden weed control. Diseased plants should also be removed to prevent disease and funguses from appearing on new plants.
In addition to removing dead plants and weeds, removing all fruits and vegetables from the ground will discourage pests from entering your garden.
Once all crops are removed, gently till the garden bed to expose any insects that may still be hiding in the soil.
2. Amend Garden Soil
Although most homeowners amend their garden’s soil in the spring, early winter is an excellent time to add soil amendments. Compost and manure are a few options for improving the soil’s quality.
Adding garden amendments during the fall will allow the nutrients to break down and become biologically active once the growing season starts.
3. Prevent Insect Damage with Horticultural Oil
Horticultural oil is a type of pesticide that controls pests on trees, vegetable gardens and other plants. Applying horticultural oil before winter hits will prevent insects and other pests from damaging your garden.
Many brands of horticultural oil, including Parafine Horticultural Oil, are effective on several varieties of trees, flowers and vegetable plants. Always follow the label’s directions when applying, as certain brands require multiple applications.
4. Plant a Cover Crop
Planting a cover crop can greatly reduce erosion and weed growth, as well as increase organic matter in your garden. Generally, cover crops are planted one month before the first killing frost.
Cover crops mainly consist of mustard, clover, peas, rye or a combination of these crops. In the spring, simply turn over the cover crop to enrich your garden’s soil.
5. Plant and Care for Trees and Shrubs
Late fall and early winter are the perfect time for planting new trees and shrubs. Additionally, you’ll want to continue caring for existing trees and shrubs even during the winter season.
Spreading a 2–3 inch layer of mulch at the base of the trunk is one of the best ways to protect your trees from cold temperatures. Winter is also a great time to prune deciduous trees, as the branches are clearly visible.
6. Protect Your Garden from Birds
Although birds may be helpful for removing small insects and pests in your garden, some birds may cause damage to plants. To prevent birds from eating garden plants, provide nesting boxes, water and bird feeders at a distance from your garden.
7. Care for Perennial Flowers
For perennial flower beds, autumn and winter are excellent times to cut any dead or withered flowers. This will improve their appearance in the spring, as well as prevent insects from hiding in the dried flowers.
If you plan on growing more perennials for the spring, now is a great time to divide and plant new bulbs in your flower bed.
8. Continue Checking Your Garden Weekly
Although your garden may be shut down until spring, it can still benefit from weekly check-ups throughout the winter season. Checking your garden at least once a week allows you to evaluate any damage and perhaps treat it with insecticide.
Controlling pests at the first sight of damage will prevent issues in the spring. Researching a spring fertilizer ahead of time will also prepare you for spring. Get ahead of the game with a Lawnifi® Spring Fertilizer Box from Sod Solutions.
We hope you found these garden care tips helpful for preparing your garden for winter. If you happen to bring plants inside for the winter, be sure to spray them with an insecticide beforehand to prevent insects in your home. Following these simple yet effective garden maintenance tips will ensure you have a healthy, thriving garden in the spring.
Want to learn more about achieving a great lawn? Check out more Sod University tips here.
Editor's Note: This article was written by Sod Solutions Content Strategist, Valerie Smith.