Preparing Your Garden For Winter

Don’t hang up your gloves just yet! Even with winter around the corner, now is the time to prepare your garden for the colder months!

Published on
November 23, 2022
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Preparing Your Garden For Winter


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Winter is right around the corner. If you have an outdoor garden, now is the time to prepare it for cold weather. Though springtime may be best known for cleaning and gardening, every season has its own unique preparations to keep in mind. 

From sprucing up the garden, protecting the soil, and preparing your perennial flowers and tougher vegetables for frost, there is still much to complete. Don’t hang up your gloves just yet!

Out with the old!

It may be tempting to let nature take its course and allow the frost to take over your garden until spring, but you will save some time and thank yourself later for taking extra care before the winter months set in. Preparing for winter requires garden maintenance, including removing diseased plants and invasive weeds, cutting the grass late into the fall season, and harvesting the last seasonal crop. 

Diseased plants and invasive weeds share a common characteristic: they spread like wildfire. Removing diseased plants and invasive weeds will act as a prevention measure against a potential setback in the spring (Cowan, 2021). No one wants diseased plants ruining the soil or pesky invasive weeds laying dormant and ready to sprout at the first sign of spring. 

If you have ever struggled with keeping your grass lush and green when spring comes around, it may be because you stopped maintaining it too early into the autumn season. Cutting the grass late into the fall may seem trivial, but it will prevent your lawn from having those bare brown patches when it grows back later (Yankee Publishing Inc., 2022).

The last harvest of the season can leave gardeners feeling bittersweet but sluggish–don’t allow your final crop of the season to go to waste! Harvest the plants that are still fresh, but leave some of your spoiled vegetables in the ground as long as they are disease free. Vegetables left in the ground will provide extra nutrients to the soil, protect against erosion in the winter, and give homes to winter pollinators (Cowan, 2021).

In with the new!

Winter is known as a period of rest and regeneration. Winter’s lesson is to teach you enrichment during hard times, and what better way to honor that than to enrich the soil of your garden. You can protect the soil by incorporating compost, fertilizer, and mulch. 

Using compost and fertilizer is typically associated with spring, but laying some down as part of your winter garden maintenance will allow the nutrients to soak into the soil once spring rolls around (Yankee Publishing Inc., 2022).

Once you’ve laid out your compost or fertilizer, it’s time to spread mulch over it. Covering the soil and compost with mulch will regulate the soil temperature, prevent soil erosion and nutrient loss, and halt weeds from taking root (Yankee Publishing Inc., 2022).

You can get as creative as you want with your mulch source, but using the autumn season’s most abundant natural resource is a great way to clean up the fallen leaves in your yard. Using autumn leaves for mulch will improve the soil’s fertility by adding extra minerals and nutrients and increasing moisture retention (Foster, 2022).

Winter Gardening: Pruning and Vegetables

Pruning practices for winter can vary depending on the plant, therefore it’s essential to know which ones are safe to cut back. Trees and shrubs are best left alone when winter is near because pruning can cause damage before the cold weather sets in. Pruning also stimulates growth that will inevitably die as it won’t have enough time to harden (Yankee Publishing Inc., 2022).

Berries are resilient against winter temperatures but they will appreciate pruning and protection with straw or mulch (Yankee Publishing Inc., 2022). Perennial flowers will also benefit from similar garden maintenance.

Tender vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, and pumpkin must be fully harvested and shouldn’t be left in the ground for winter (Yankee Publishing Inc., 2022). Vegetables for the winter should be able to withstand freezing or near-freezing temperatures. 

Some vegetables like cabbages, carrots, and potatoes can tolerate frosts between 29° to 32°F. Meanwhile, winter vegetables like Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, and spinach thrive at 25° to 28°F, often yielding improved taste as well (Yankee Publishing Inc., 2022).

Lasting The Winter Months

Gardening is a fulfilling lifetime hobby for many, so if you are yearning for spring to come soon, there are a few ways you can satiate your gardening needs. 

First, you can review what worked and didn’t work for the spring and summer months, and then reassess and plan for better results next year.

If your green thumb cannot wait for spring, you can always bring some plants indoors! Some of the potted plants in your outdoor garden can and should be brought inside for the winter, and you can also add to your plant collection with indoor plants. 

Some easy household plants to care for indoors are succulents, cacti, aloe, fiddle leaf figs, Chinese evergreens, and snake plants (Ball, 2021). These easy plants are resilient indoors year-round because they all have low-maintenance plant care. They can go a long time between watering and are more durable in the shade and low lighting. Low maintenance makes them the perfect plant companions for those overcast skies during winter. 

Winter can be difficult if you live in a colder, harsher climate, but embracing every season for what they bring will give you a newfound appreciation for the off-season and make those spring and summer months for outdoor gardening all the more special.


10 easy house plants that thrive in the winter

10 ways to prepare your garden for Winter

6 reasons to use autumn leaves as mulch!  

10 tips for preparing your garden for Winter

Photo by Julia Zolotova: