Before you hang up your garden tools for the season, a final chore is to put your garden to bed for the upcoming winter and that means protecting your plants so that they survive the cold and thrive next spring.
Prepare your lawn for next spring by applying winterizer fertilizer. Apply this product on a day when the weather is above freezing. Winterizer fertilizer acts to promote deep rooting during the winter for a healthier lawn next spring. It’s a slow release blend which means that each time we have rain or snow, a little burst of fertilizer will be released, rather than having a big shot right now. If you’ve never tried winterizer fertilizer in the past, you will be surprised at how beneficial it can be for your lawn and how well it works.
Put tree protectors or use tree wrap on your young or newly planted trees for several reasons. The first is to protect them against the harmful rays of the winter sun. Light colored bark trees such as locust, ash, and maples are all especially susceptible and need this extra protection. The tree protectors and wrap will also protect them against deer that may want to browse or rub against them throughout the winter.
Now is also the time to protect your trees with a fresh layer of mulch. The mulch acts as an insulator and protects against freezing and thawing and helps to keep frost heaves that can uproot young or newly planted trees to a minimum. Mulch will also help to retain moisture and keep the roots moist through the winter months ensuring they don’t freeze dry.
If you have fruit trees, mulch can be especially important, particularly for peaches or apricots that you don’t want to have bloom early in the spring. Each spring, once we get that first bit of warm weather, many of the fruit trees will bloom only to have the blossoms freeze resulting in a fruitless season. Mulch acts as a protectant and even though you initially apply it to keep the ground warm, it can also help to keep it cool and from warming up too quickly in the spring so that your fruit trees won’t bloom too early.
Mulch should also be used to protect your roses so that they are happy through the winter and go into next spring as healthy as possible. Mound it up to about 10-12″ around the bush to protect the graft. Be sure to remove any leaves that have built up around the base before adding the mulch in order to prevent diseases that could form from the trapped rotting leaves.
Protect your perennial bed by cleaning it up now in order to prepare it for the next spring blooming season. Once the tops have frozen hard, cut them back but be sure to leave at least 8-10″ of growth. Plant your bulbs now too if you haven’t already done that. The weather has cooled enough that there is little chance of them sprouting.
If you are planning on a live Christmas tree this year, a final chore would be to dig the hole for it now, before the ground freezes hard. Cover the hole with a tarp or plastic to keep it from filling with leaves and debris and to protect your kids from falling in.
A little time doing some protective chores in your garden now will result in a much easier spring when it’s time to wake the garden up. Not only will your plants survive the winter much more happily, they will also thrive next year thanks to the protection and care you have given them.