Checklist for Putting Your Garden to Bed: 10 Simple Steps

Checklist for Putting Your Garden to Bed: 10 Simple Steps

Well, Autumn is upon us!  Autumn means Thanksgiving, football, jumping in piles of leaves, cozy sweaters, and all things pumpkin.  If you're starting to think about putting your patio umbrella away but are finding it difficult to know where to start, or are just needing some incentive for saying hasta la vista to another summer, we've got just the checklist to jumpstart you.  Here is a simple way to put your garden to bed:

1)  Fertilize:

It's no surprise, folks! This is the most important fertilizer application that you will make to your lawn all year.  A quality fertilizer will build up natural sugars at the root zone that will hold your lawn over the winter and bring it back in good shape next spring.  Less snow mould, burnout, and a faster green-up come spring will result.  

2)  Cut Your Lawn:  

"When?" you ask.  Cut your lawn before the major freeze up and at its normal height.  Use a mulching mower if you can, and do not leave anything -- leaves or grass clippings -- on the lawn over the winter.  Rake them off the lawn onto the garden.  Remember to never cut your lawn more than 1/3 of its height at a time.  

3)  Fruit Trees:  

Fruit trees and young flowering trees like crabapples, fruit-bearing apples, pears, plums and the like all need to be protected from rabbits and mice during the winter.  Consider using plastic spiral protectors on the bottom of the tree trunk.  After a tree has matured to about 10 centimetres in diameter (measured about 80 cm up the trunk), this is no longer a concern as rodents like the bark of young trees only.  

4)  Insulate: 

Protect roses (hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora and miniature roses in particular) from the effects of the freeze-thaw cycles by applying a thick layer of clean top soil in a mound at the base of each plant.  A corrugated plastic rose collar helps to mound the soil even further up the canes of the plant, giving more protection to the roots and bud union of the plant.  Generally, climbers do not need winterizing and hardy shrub roses never need it.  

5)  Burlap:

Upright evergreens like junipers and cedars need to be protected from the drying effects of the wind and snow.  Consider using two layers of burlap.

6)  Fallen Leaves: 

Use the leaves that fall in your yard to either build your compost or as mulch on flower beds for the winter.  Empty your composter of the finished stuff to make room for the new raw material.  Mix four parts leaves with one part leftover annual plants or grass clippings.  

7)  Mower:

Clean out your cutting deck and spray it with oil.  Sharpen your blades.  Change the oil if needed, and disconnect the spark plug and empty of it of gas.  

8)  Hand Tools:

Scrape them free of caked-on dirt, sharpen them, and spray them with oil before hanging them up for the winter.  Come spring, they'll be good to go!

9)  Water:

Turn off your outdoor faucets, but not before your water all of the evergreens.  Believe it or not, the roots of evergreens much prefer to be wet before the serious freeze up and will winter much more happily after a good soaking.  Roll up your garden hose and empty your rain barrel, then put them in storage.  

10)  Sprinklers:

Have your sprinklers blown out.  Nobody needs to turn their sprinklers on in the spring only to discover that water has expanded and contracted over the winter and cracked their pipes leaving them useless!!  

We know you can handle these 10 easy steps!  Now go put that patio umbrella away then enjoy a pumpkin latte!