How Does Your Winter Garden Grow?

Now that nighttime temperatures are dropping, we need to be thinking about winterizing our yards and gardens. If your lows are in the upper 30s to low 40s, it's time to get to work preparing for the winter months and making easier work in the spring.

* Clear out flower beds and around trees. Remove weeds, annuals and dying or diseased leaves from trees and other plants.

* Take care of trees and shrubs.
Trim larger, overhanging branches so there are no surprises during winter storms. Don't over-mulch around the bottom of trees, or you'll create lovely little homes for rodents and bugs over the winter. And wait until the first frost to put it out, so you don't attract them while they're looking for a winter home.

* Mulch your perennial vegetables. This will prevent root damage and protect plants from extreme temperature changes.

* Treat perennials appropriately. I was under the impression that when fall was over, you trimmed your perennials down to 6-8 inches for the winter months. Actually, certain plants do wonderfully well in the winter, and don't need to be pruned at all. Check into the specifics of the perennials you have - some of them you'll get to enjoy longer. But once they're done looking their best, trim them out.

* Mow one more time. Set your blades as low as your particular kind of grass will handle and mow one last time this season. Bag all the clippings and put them in your compost pile, if you have one. Then pull or treat your weeds and your lawn will be good to go.

* Water one more time. Think about a nice layer of moisture in the ground before the first freeze hits. Some plants will thrive more than others with that extra water in a coupld of months when they need it, so take the time now.

* Clean up your workspace. Wipe down, oil and put away all your gardening and lawn care tools after your last use this season. Put away water hoses after they're dried out, sharpen blades and cover everything to keep it clean.

A little extra work now will provide you with a clean slate for spring. Take some time to prepare for some pretty winter plants, too, and a clean yard all winter long.


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