As the temperatures begin to drop and the sun gets a little lower in the sky every gardener begins longing for those long summer gardening days. Fall is a season of preparation where, if you do it correctly, you’ll have a thriving and vibrant garden next spring.
On the other hand, if your fall prep is done poorly, you’ll end up with a garden that struggles to come back after the snow melts and the mercury rises again in the spring. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the essential steps to ensure your garden is still there to enjoy next spring.
1. Clean Up and Tidy Your Garden
Start by removing fallen leaves, dead plants, and other debris. This not only makes your garden look neater but also prevents pests, diseases, and rot from taking hold during the typically wet winter ahead.
2. Prune and Trim
Prune any dead or diseased branches to encourage healthy growth come spring. Also, trim back any overgrown plants to prevent them from becoming entangled or damaged by snow and ice. This shouldn’t be a rejuvenating cut back to the ground, but rather a healthy pruning to remove excess growth or any failing sections of your plants.
3. Mulch and Insulate
Apply a layer of mulch around the base of trees and shrubs to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Additionally, insulate more delicate plants with garden fabric or straw to shield them from extreme cold. Yes, your annuals will depart until you replant them next year, but perineals need their roots protected from extreme cold in order to make it through the long winter and a good bed of mulch provides that. To learn more about how much to mulch check out this post.
4. Water and Hydrate
While plants require less water in winter, it’s crucial to water deeply before the first freeze. This ensures the roots are well-hydrated and better equipped to withstand cold conditions.
5. Protect Container Plants
If you have potted plants that don’t belong in your growing zone, then it’s time to bring them indoors, move them to a sheltered spot or wrap them with bubble wrap or horticultural fleece to prevent the roots from freezing before the first cold snap.
6. Consider a Greenhouse
If you’re an avid gardener, investing in a cold frame or greenhouse can extend your growing season. These structures provide a controlled environment for your plants to thrive throughout the winter. It’s also a nice place to store the multitude of potted plants that most gardeners don’t truly have room for indoors to keep your house from getting too cluttered this winter.
7. Monitor for Pests
Check your garden regularly for signs of pests like aphids and spider mites, which can become more problematic in the winter. Consider using eco-friendly pest control methods to protect your plants.
8. Feed the Birds
Winter can be tough for birds, and attracting birds to your garden not only helps with pest control, but also provides some of the only action of interest in a winter garden. Just because you’re not out in the garden weekly anymore don’t neglect filling those bird feeders. Provide bird feeders with seeds, suet, and fresh water.
9. Winterize Your Tools
Don’t forget about your gardening tools. Clean, sharpen, and oil them to keep them in good working condition for the next growing season. A good cleaning includes a light sanding of wooden handles as well as rubbing down the metal portions with some steel wool to remove surface rust. Then before you put the tools away for the winter buff the wood and steel with a coat of boiled linseed oil or Austin’s Wood Butter to condition the wood and metals and prevent rust over the winter.
10. Plan for Spring
While you’re preparing for winter, it’s never too early to start planning for your spring garden. Research new plants, order seeds, and create a planting schedule to get a head start. You wanna be ready no matter what the groundhog says will happen come spring!
If you prep your garden like this you’ll have far fewer issues come spring time and you can rest assured your garden will be right where you left when the growing season starts again. Now it’s just time to find a new hobby for the winter until you can get that dirt between your fingers again.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.