T he colder climates are upon us and this means your garden will not be in the state to be blooming as it usually does. So it is important that you keep some things winter sorted. Without proper precautions, cold temperatures, drying winds, and snow cover can lead to several problems in their landscape. Plants can get windburn, tree branches can be broken from snow load, and sprinkler systems can be destroyed from a prolonged freeze. Winterization doesn’t have to be difficult though — most of the tasks fit into a regular course of maintenance and contribute to a healthy landscape year-round. Let me now share some of the winter essentials and know-how on ways in which you can keep your surroundings protected for the winter spell.
Let’s now look at some of the essential preparation tips on how you can make the most of your winter by keeping your garden well-protected. The main thing is you need to weed the garden on a regular basis. Weeding done late in the season can help eliminate hundreds of overwintering seeds that will just be waiting to sprout in spring. You should remove the debris properly. The thing is, clear fallen leaves and other debris from lawns and beds will decrease the potential for overwintering pests and diseases. Clean, dry leaves (not those from diseased trees or shrubs) can be shredded and used as mulch. Gather leaves and put them through a leaf shredder or simply run over them with a lawnmower with a bag attached. Shredding the leaves prevents them from packing together in layers, and allows for better air circulation and water to flow through. Another thing to know is that landscaping with native and other well-adapted plants can help minimize the care needed to keep your landscape healthy. However, plants don’t develop their full cold hardiness until they’re mature, and newer plants may need a couple years to reach their full cold-hardy potential. In the meantime, provide these younger plants with some extra protection.
The main element to master here is pruning. This means you should cut back any perennials that aren’t desired over winter: plants that will blacken and turn mushy, like Veronicas or geraniums; ones that tend to harbor disease or insects over winter, like peonies, bearded iris and members of the mint family; and those that just don’t provide attractive winter interest. Cut back weak or spindly branches that might be damaged with snow load, and cross branches that can be damaged from rubbing in high wind. Trim long canes on roses to keep them from snapping. This should be done once perennials have gone dormant, which is usually after a few killing touches of frost. Depending on the pruning requirements for each variety, any major pruning should be left for another time, usually spring or summer. You should aim at protecting the hedges. This means to shield a row of shrubs, you can either wrap the entire row or create a windbreak on the prevailing wind side with stakes and a length of protective fabric or dense shade cloth. Root systems of newly planted bushes and trees aren’t established enough to readily replace water lost from dehydrating winter winds. Continue to water them regularly until the ground freezes and use a mulch to help retain moisture. Give all your plants one last deep watering. They’ll need this extra moisture to get through the winter when they have difficulty getting water from the frozen ground. Plants that are located under eave lines may get more than their fair share of snow due to the roof shed. Build teepee structures over these plants to deflect this extra load and keep branches from breaking. Another thing to know is the kind of hardier plants you should be selecting for winter. Plants and trees grown in containers are at a disadvantage to those grown in-ground. The above-ground portion of the plant may have reached its full hardiness, but the roots are more vulnerable to freezing without the full benefit of in-ground insulation. Even if a plant is hardy for your zone, choosing one that is hardy one to two zones lower can help it survive when grown in a container. Larger containers also offer better insulation with a greater volume of soil.