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How to Winterize a Garden

As the seasons change, for those who live in areas that experience frost and freezing temperatures, winterizing needs to be done. People often winterize homes, boats, and cars but don't always think about gardens. Winterizing a garden is beneficial in a number of ways. Winterizing can help plants survive and make sure that come spring, they will produce colorful blooms.

How to Winterize Your Garden

Research Your Zone - To create a winterization plan for your garden, you should be familiar with the USDA zone in which you live. Knowing your zone will allow you to discover the average extreme winter temperature where you live which is important in creating a plan of action. You should also be familiar with the estimated dates of your first frost and last freeze.

Weed - When winterizing your garden, you want to remove any invasive plants and weeds. Be sure not to place the weeds in a compost pile but instead ensure that the seed heads are placed in a container and put in the garbage.

Clean - It is important to tidy up your garden prior to the arrival of colder temperatures. Remove any debris or dead plants that could wind up being a space for pests to hide during the winter. Cleaning up will also make your garden easier to tackle once spring arrives.

Dig Up Bulbs - Some bulbs are able to survive the freeze but more tender varieties should be dug up and wrapped in newspaper for a few weeks until the are dried out. The bulbs can then be placed in a container and covered with sand, vermiculture, or sawdust until they can be replanted in warmer weather. Bulbs that have been left in the ground should be covered with an additional layer of mulch during freezes.

Lay Down Mulch - When winterizing the garden, spread a layer of mulch, which is particularly helpful for perennials that have been newly planted and do not yet have an extensive root system. If possible, wait to spread mulch until the ground has begun to freeze. The mulch should be added in a thick layer and will help keep the ground frozen or cold until Spring. This can prevent plants from becoming uprooted due to freeze and thaw cycles that can disrupt the soil.

Protect Newly Planted Trees - Young trees, especially those that bear fruit, have delicate bark that is thin and can easily scald or crack when temperatures fluctuate. Young trees can be wrapped with spiral protectors or tree tape to keep the bark safe.

Hydrate Conifers - If the summer and autumn seasons have been dry, deep soaks for evergreens are important. Such plants are susceptible to winter burn and proper hydration can help prevent the issue.

Protect Trees From Wind - In addition to winter burn, evergreens are susceptible to wind burn as well. Wind burn can be prevented by installing wind breaks before the ground freezes. Wind breaks consist of stakes placed in the ground to form a V which is then wrapped in burlap or landscape fabric.

Wrap Tender Plants - Shrubs can be wrapped in landscape fabric or burlap to protect from prolonged freezes. It is important to remove the wrap when temperatures begin to rise so as not to overheat the plant. Plastic should never be used as it is not breathable and can essentially cook your shrub. You can build small tents to easily place over shrubs in the event of a deep freeze as opposed to having to wrap the plants each time. Tents can also protect plants from snow that falls from the roof and eaves.

Drain Water Features - While some people have pumps that are able to work even in cold temperatures, others should be removed. If you need to remove the pump, you should also remove any plants that are in the water so they can be stored.

Grow Food in the Winter - While many delicate plants will not survive winter temperatures, many gardeners continue to grow fresh vegetables throughout the cold season. You can create a cold frame which is simply made from wire hoops and landscaping cloth. The cold frame allows vegetables such as beets, lettuce, and spinach to grow in the cold.

When you take the time to winterize your garden, not only are you protecting your plants, it will be much easier to prepare the garden in the spring. The sites below feature additional tips and information on winterizing your garden.

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