Winterize your Garden
Just as you make sure your car is ready for winter this time
of year, so should you make sure your garden is ready.
How? Start by cleaning up the debris in your garden, removing
dead foliage as well as the stakes and row markers. Cut back dead
growth on your perennials.
These are all measures that not only get your garden and flower
beds ready for planting and new growth next spring, but they prevent
over wintering pests and diseases on rotting foliage. Be sure to
throw out or burn any diseased foliage. Don't put it into the compost
Have you raked those fallen leaves yet? The grass is still green
underneath and can use all the light possible to prepare for winter.
Removing leaves also allows water and air to get to the living plants,
preventing them from suffocating. For this reason, leaves, especially
tough ones that pack down and rot slowly, do not make good mulch
for perennials and should be raked off perennial beds.
It's too late to divide perennials, but there's still time to
mulch shrubs, trees, and perennial beds with a loose organic material
such as bark mulch. Do it now, and you will have one less job to
worry about in the spring. Mulches also help protect roots during
winter from cold and fluctuating temperatures.
Don't mulch too thickly--no more than a few inches--around woody
trees and shrubs as the mulch makes a nice home for mice which chew
bark. If packed around tree trunks too thick, mulch can smother
the tree and cause it to die.
Have you protected your evergreens from drying winter winds?
In colder weather the roots of evergreens are frozen and unable
to take up water. Winter winds may desiccate or dry them out, eventually
causing them to die. This is why leaves turn brown--from lack of
Protect your evergreens by putting up a screen on the windy sides,
usually the north and west. This can be as simple as erecting three
wooden stakes and wrapping burlap around them. But whatever
you do, don't cover the plants directly with plastic. It will heat
up like a greenhouse on sunny days and cook your plants.
Or you can spray evergreens with an antidessicant, available
from your local garden center. This provides a protective layer
on the leaves that will wear off by spring. Some years this
may work or not, depending on specific conditions and climate that
year. Research results are mixed on whether or not antidessicants
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor