Gardeners in colder climates begin to think about winter in the middle-to-late autumn. This is not because they are looking forward to it but because they know that freezing temperatures, dry winds, and snow cover can cause serious problems in their gardens without proper preparations. Windburn can cause severe damage to plants, and snow loads can damage tree branches and sprinkler systems. It doesn’t have to be complicated to winterize. Most of the tasks can be done in a regular maintenance program and will contribute to a healthy landscape all year.
Take out the overwintering plants.
A final weeding can be done in the spring to eliminate hundreds of them. Find out what you can do to eliminate common garden weeds.
Remove all debris. You can shred dry leaves, but not those from diseased trees and shrubs, to make mulch.
SHRUBS, PERENNIALS, AND TREES
Native and well-adapted plants are a great way to reduce the amount of care required to maintain your landscape. Plants don’t reach their full cold tolerance until they are mature. Newer plants may take a few years to reach this point. These plants can be protected with extra protection in the interim.
Trim delicate and newly planted shrubs
Avoid geraniums and Veronicas, which can turn mushy and blacken over winter; plants that harbor disease or insects, such as bearded iris, Veronicas, and peonies; and plants that don’t offer winter interest. Wrap fragile and newly planted shrubs. Due to dry winter winds, evergreens are more susceptible to winter damage than deciduous varieties. You should wrap shrubs with weak, fragile, or floppy branches or leaves easily damaged with breathable material.
You can either wrap the entire row with protective fabric or shade cloth or use stakes to create windbreaks on the windward side of the shrubs.
The root systems of newly planted trees and bushes aren’t strong enough to replace the water lost due to winter winds drying them. Keep them hydrated until they freeze. Mulch can be used to retain water. All plants should be given a final deep watering. This extra moisture will be crucial for them to survive the winter when they are unable to access water from the frozen ground.
Reduce the snow load
Roof-shed can cause plants to accumulate more snow than they should. To deflect the extra load and prevent branches from breaking, build teepees over these plants.
Choose hardier plants
Container-grown trees and plants are less resilient than those that are in the ground. Although the above-ground part of the plant may be at its maximum hardiness, the roots are more susceptible to freezing without in-ground insulation. If a plant is not hardy in your area, it is possible to choose one that is. This will help the plant survive when placed in a container. A larger container provides better insulation and a larger volume of soil.
Bring them inside
Tender tropical and perennial plants can be brought indoors, where they will receive bright sunlight. Half-hardy perennials should be moved to a basement/garage where they can go dormant.
Unplug your timer: Timers are susceptible to damage from power surges in winter storms. It’s better not to turn them off but unplug them.
Blower out the system. In cold climates, irrigation systems should have periodic outlets that allow you to blow out any water remaining in the pipes using an air compressor. This will prevent freezing and damage.
Drain all water from hose bibs. Turn off the water supply at the source.
OUTDOOR LIVING FEATURES
- Turn off gas lines. If your area is winterized, you won’t be able to use your gas-fueled firepit or outdoor kitchen until spring. The shut-off valve for outdoor gas lines is usually located at the house. This prevents leakage from winter damage.
- Drain faucets To drain any water left behind, shut off the water supply at the source.
- Drains cleared: To stop water from freezing in drains of outdoor sinks, pour some plumbing antifreeze down drains to prevent them from freezing.
- Protect furniture. You can bring your patio furniture indoors, or you can use fitted covers for protection outside in the winter.