You’ve put in some hard work in developing the perfect nighttime routine for yourself; taking the time for skincare, reading, planning for the next day, or whatever puts you in the position to be your best self, day after day.
Similarly, there are some key tasks that your landscape will appreciate as it goes dormant for the winter months, and that will result in happy, healthy plants that will flourish next spring. While climate from region to region can affect the timing of these tasks, most can be done at any time throughout the fall and winter months.
Here Are 5 Ways to Put Your Landscape to Rest for the Winter:
Clean Up Leaves, Sticks, and Other Debris
While this may not sound like a high-level job, cleaning out garden debris can be one of the most paramount tasks you will perform in your landscape. Take the time to clear away any sticks, dead plants, weeds, or leaves that have accumulated so you not only have a tidy landscape but are ready to move on to the task of laying down mulch. As a side note, it’s perfectly okay to use leaves as mulch. This was the way nature intended it; leaves fall, get broken down, and the nutrients are reused. It’s a personal preference if you want to utilize your fallen leaves, but this is typically limited to more naturalistic and wooded beds.
Lay Down A Fresh Layer of Mulch
Putting down hardwood mulch or pine needles after leaves fall is a perfect way to provide some extra protection for plants and their root systems in the winter, while also setting up a weed barrier for the spring. I recommend putting out a one to three-inch layer of mulch to help insulate plants, be sure to avoid the crown of any trees (the area where the trunk meets the ground) to prevent any decay in that zone.
Deadheading is another one of those tasks that doesn’t seem glamorous, but it will provide many benefits to the plant! Like a much-needed haircut, deadheading ensures that your plant enters the winter only with what it needs to get through the cold months. Just make sure that you’re cutting growth that has completely died back; you don’t want to encourage new growth this time of year.
Dig Up and Transplant or Divide Plants as Needed
In a similar vein to deadheading perennials, you want to ensure that plants have gone completely dormant for this task. Hitting that sweet spot where a plant is dormant, but before the ground has frozen allows you to move plants before winter sets in and gives it time to re-establish its root system before growth starts again in the spring. Hosta or bulbs are examples of plants that may need to be divided more frequently. This rule also applies to any plants you want to add to your landscape; fall is the perfect time to plant!
Prune Your Evergreens
Late fall or early winter is a fantastic time to prune your evergreen trees and shrubs. This can get your plants in shape for holiday visitors and leave your plant refreshed as it transitions its focus to root growth. Just be wary of the forecast, you don’t want to prune evergreen foliage when you’re going to be experiencing freezing temperatures. This can invite cold or frost damage into the plant, leaving it looking burned until the spring.
If you have missed this window of opportunity, prune in the late winter or early spring when temperatures have warmed a little, but the plant isn’t showing signs of new growth just yet. As a bonus of performing this task in the late fall or early winter, you may elect to use pruned foliage as seasonal or holiday decorations in your home. Evergreen foliage often works well as filler in a cut flower arrangement or weaved into garlands. This is an opportunity to get creative and have some fun with bringing your landscape from the outdoors to the indoors!
As you take the time to go through this list of landscape tasks keep in mind that there is often flexibility when it comes to timing, as mentioned above. Similar to pruning evergreens, many of these tasks can be done in the very late winter or early spring. Performing them now, however, gives your plant the bonus of being at its healthiest before entering the winter. Remember that this is a time of rest and rejuvenation for most plants, even if they don’t lose their leaves. Plus, when these tasks are completed, in the spring you will be able to watch your plants turn into the lushest and most beautiful versions of themselves!
Do feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions about these landscape tasks and happy gardening!
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Jennifer has always had a love of being active in nature and has brought that together by studying English and Horticulture at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina and by later obtaining an AFAA Personal Training Certification.