As winter approaches, gardeners around the country prepare their gardens for the cold weather. While novice gardeners may be anxious about the prospect of winter, experts like Vikki Gerrard La Crosse know that with a little preparation, they can make sure their gardens stay healthy and look great for the upcoming growing season. Here are seven tips from Gerrard and other experts that will help you get your garden ready for winter:

1. Clean Up

One of the first things you’ll want to do to winterize your garden is clean up all of the debris and fallen leaves from the garden. Not only will this make your garden look neater, but it will also prevent diseases from overwintering in the waste. The materials you’re cleaning up are perfect places for pathogens to overwinter, so it’s best to get rid of them as soon as possible.

While you want to remove the debris from your garden beds, you also don’t want to throw it away. Dead leaves,  garden waste, and other organic materials can be composted and used to improve the soil in your garden come spring.

2. Mulch

Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your garden in the winter. A thick layer of mulch will insulate the ground, preventing the soil from freezing and repeatedly thawing as the weather changes. This will help to prevent plant roots from being damaged by the cold.

Mulch will also help to keep weeds from sprouting in your garden beds next spring. As an added bonus, it will also add nutrients to the soil as it breaks down over time.   When choosing mulch for your garden, select an organic material like wood chips, leaves, or straw. Avoid using plastic sheeting or other inorganic materials, as they can increase the heat that escapes from the soil.

3. Store Your Gardening Tools

Gardening tools are an investment that helps to feed your family; you’ll want to take care of them, so they last for many years. Before winter sets in, make sure to clean and dry all of your gardening tools. This will prevent rusting and other damage that can occur when tools are stored wet. If you have delicate tools, like pruners, you may want to oil them before storing them for the winter.

Once your tools are clean and dry, store them in a dry place. A garage or shed is ideal, but if you don’t have either of those, Vikki Gerrard La Crosse advises you can wrap your tools in newspaper and store them in a box inside your house. Whatever method you choose, ensure the equipment is protected from the elements to prevent damage.

4. Prune

Pruning is an integral part of preparing your garden for winter. You’ll want to prune bushes and trees, especially those prone to winter diseases like fire blight. By pruning diseased branches, you can help prevent the disease’s spread to the rest of the plant.

Pruning will also help to prevent damage from heavy snow and ice loads. Removing dead branches from bushes and trees will help prevent them from toppling under the weight of snow and ice. Pruning will also help to encourage new growth in your plants to come spring. When you prune a plant, you stimulate its growth hormones, allowing it to produce fresh leaves and branches.

When pruning, make sure to sterilize your pruning tools between each cut. This step will help to prevent the spread of diseases. You can sanitize your tools by dipping them in a solution of bleach and water or by using rubbing alcohol.

5.   Plant Bulbs

Before the ground freezes, take one more trip outside and plant some bulbs for the warmer months. Fall is the perfect time to plant spring-flowering bulbs, giving the plants a chance to establish themselves before winter sets in. Once winter arrives, the bulbs will be dormant and won’t need any maintenance until they start growing again in the spring. When planting bulbs, make sure to plant them in well-draining soil.

Some of the best bulbs to plant in fall are tulips, daffodils, and crocuses. These bulbs will bloom in the spring, providing a pop of color in your garden after a long winter. Planting bulbs under trees can give them the extra protection they need from the cold if you live in an area with a lot of snow. The tree’s branches will provide a layer of insulation for the bulbs, preventing them from being damaged by frost.  

7. Prepare Tender Plants

Some plants will need additional support to make it through the winter months. Tender plants cannot tolerate freezing temperatures and must be brought indoors or covered when the weather gets cold. Potted plants can be brought indoors and placed in a sunny spot.

Use a breathable material like burlap if you have plants in your garden that need to be covered. This coverage will allow the plant to get the air it needs while protecting itself from the cold. To properly cover a plant, Vikki Gerrard La Crosse advises draping the material over it and securing it at the base. You can use a stake or other object to keep the fabric from touching the plant’s leaves.

Final Thought

Preparing your garden for winter doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Anyone who enjoys gardening, from novice to expert, can see themselves up for a successful gardening season with just a few actions. By taking some simple steps, you can ensure that your plants and gardening tools are protected from the cold weather. These steps will help to prevent damage and encourage new growth in the spring.