Prepare a list and a schedule. First off, you have to map out a winter gardening itinerary to follow. You need to know your area’s frost dates, for starters. The USDA site has a plant hardiness zone map you can use as reference to know which plants are best at surviving cold weather, and which need special care. You can also consult a local gardening almanac according to city, state, or zip code. These give specific tips on what to grow where, and other resources. You can then schedule the chores, tasks, and other activities that need to be done in your winterizing list. Small acts like rolling up garden hoses, putting plastic containers away to prevent from cracking, and draining the fuel tank of lawn mowers will save you a lot of heartache (and money) when spring gardening rolls around.
Fall Yard Hacks and Tasks
The leaves are starting to fall and while the hard work of summer lawn and garden care may be over, now’s the time to tackle a few landscaping tasks that need to be finished before winter arrives. By completing these chores now, you will be able to jump right in when spring arrives. Here are 10 top tasks for winterizing your lawn and garden this fall:
Get rid of weeds. Don’t neglect weeding pre-winter. Many can survive the cold and wreak havoc on your plants. Carefully remove those with seed heads so that none will come out. Even a tiny portion of seeds can germinate fast and invade your garden in a matter of weeks. Make sure the weeds are nowhere in contact with your other plants and soil. Put them in a covered garbage bin where they belong. This is the perfect time to till and turn over the soil while it’s still easy to work. You’ll be saving yourself the extra labor in the spring when the soil is hard and cold from winter. Finish by covering the beds with a layer of organic fertilizer such as chicken or cow manure.
Annual Shrub and Tree Transplanting. Trees and shrubs have a tenancy to become overgrown over time. When they become too big for their space or need to be moved for other reasons, fall is the ideal time to move them to their new home.
Keep shrubs snug and warm. Plants can experience chill, too. You can wrap shrubs with a burlap sack or a thick fabric to keep them from freezing and suffering windburn. Never use plastic because it doesn’t breathe, and can overheat young plants. When the weather becomes warmer, remove the wrapping right away.
Plant Bulbs for Spring. Spend a bit of time during fall planting new bulbs in pots and in- ground, so you can enjoy an array of color and beauty in the early spring. Bulbs can be divided during this time allowing for the chance to control their size and location. Plant excess bulbs in other parts of the yard.
Cut Back Perennials. Cut back and shape perennials such as shrubs, trees, grasses, and plants such as hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons.
Prep Hoses and Outdoor Faucets for Cold. Prep hoses and outdoor faucets for cold by disconnecting all hoses. Next roll them up and store with sprinklers and wands. Insulate all exposed pipes and exterior water faucets to prevent them from freezing.
Aerate, Over-seed & Fertilize the Lawn. Help your lawn grow green and healthy next spring by aerating, over-seeding and fertilizing now. Fall is the ideal time to aerate and over-seed the lawn. Use an aerator just before seeding to help improve the soil, drainage and aeration. An annual fall application of compost spread on top of the lawn will ensure micro-nutrients are improving the soil.
Mulch, mulch, mulch. Plants need extra warmth during winter, and mulching will act as a protective blanket for them. New plants that have not taken root yet especially need mulching. It will keep moisture where it needs, and prevent weeds from taking hold, while keeping soil temperature even for tender plants. Check in mid-January to early February if the mulch has moved from heavy wind and rain, and reapply as needed, unless you are using a weather resistant mulch like Rubber Mulch which won’t blow away and is more durable.
Service, Clean & Replace Tools. There’s nothing more frustrating than rusted or poorly working equipment or tools when you’re ready to use them in the spring. Take the time to clean, sharpen and oil garden tools, as well as clean and service lawnmowers and weed eaters now. Don’t forget to put away garden accessories like buckets, hoses, rakes, and others – keep them in a shed so they won’t freeze or rust.
About Rhianna Miller:
Rhianna Miller is the Landscaping Design Expert at Rubber Mulch, the original and environmentally responsible mulch made from 100% recycled rubber used in gardens, playgrounds and sustainable landscaping. Rubber Mulch is low maintenance, weather resistant, non toxic, durable, and the most cost effective mulch around and is specifically designed to protect children from falls on the playground.