With cold weather lurking right around the corner, it’s time to clean up your outdoor areas and put your garden to bed for the winter. After you pack away the outdoor umbrellas and store patio cushions against inclement weather, turn your attention to preparing your garden to survive cool temperatures so they will flourish in the spring.

While it may appear that all activity in your yard has ceased, there is still a lot going on underneath the soil. Recently transplanted shrubs and trees, hardy bulbs and newly divided perennials are still growing roots, and drawing in the moisture and nutrients surrounding them. In addition, various soil microbes are busy processing organic material, and earthworms are still digging around for sustenance.

Because the organic mulch spread during the summer months to protect the soil against the heat has now substantially broken down, it is important to spread a new, thick winter layer to protect your plants and the soil. By raking up fallen leaves and converting them to fresh mulch, you not only clean your yard up, but you keep your soil temperatures even for root development.

In addition to basic cleanup and yard maintenance, now is the time to clean up your plants, shrubs and trees. You can maintain this yourself and although as landscaping experts, Groby Landscapes can help you, we will always advise that you clean up your areas during the winter. We can offer driveway and block paving solutions all year round and are able to start planning a winter garden design project now. Although we believe planting is much better looked at starting from today. Here are a few tips on planting and maintaining your outdoor area during the winter.

IMG_0291Preparing Perennials

  • Neaten your garden by cutting back dried or dead stems of perennials to remove any disease spores or pest eggs that may linger into spring. Prune them down to soil level after the first frost.
  • Trim any diseased foliage from evergreen shrubs and plants and throw any questionable foliage and trimmings away.
  • Rake up and toss any remaining disease-bearing mulch. Compost the remaining plant material to create an organic soil amendment. Make sure your compost piles are active and hot; inactive, cool, passive compost piles allow weed seeds to sprout and disease pathogens to multiply.
  • Apply a commercially prepared leaf mulch to perennial and shrub beds to protect plant roots and to minimize the effects of extreme temperature fluctuations during repetitive freezing and thawing. Add any remaining compost created during the previous season.

Preparing Bulbs

  • Carefully dig up and remove small, shallowly-planted or tender bulbs and store in a paper bag in a dark, cool, dry area.
  • Use evergreen boughs to mulch the beds of less delicate bulbs, to prevent the soil from cracking and shifting during the winter.

Preparing Shrubs and Trees

Trim and remove any dead, diseased or low-hanging branches and discard. Rake up any fallen leaves and add to your compost heap and replace with a thick layer of mulch.

Preparing General Outdoor Areas

 (7)After all your winter yard prep and cleaning is complete, sweep any patios and walkways, and remove any debris. Clean out water features such as fountains and ponds and refill with clean water. Remove and store any chairs, furnishings or accent accessories that could be damaged by cool or wet weather; clean them, and then store them in a dry, protected area.

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