Garden Tasks To Do Before The Ground Freezes
I asked a bunch of experienced garden friends (including some master gardeners) to share what they do to prepare a garden for winter (and have a better spring garden).
It seems there are two types of fall garden tasks:
- The tasks you’ll regret not doing (that really help a garden progress).
- Those that can be put off until spring without the sky falling.
While some may call the avoidance of tasks procrastination, I think of it as basic survival. Winters here are far too long and the only known antedotes are homemade soups and good books!
But, that said, there are some things that must get done…unless you’ve already started hibernation.
Summer time? Here’s the Essential Summer Garden Checklist. It may not be what you’re expecting…
The tips provided here are for tasks that have good pay-offs. If you live in a colder climate like I do, it can be really hard to stay motivated to get outside and get all these things done.
I never get through my entire list, but I do set priorities and make sure the top items get completed.
I’ve organized the tips by categories. Have a look and see what’s needed for your garden.
Tips To Prepare Your Garden For Winter
1. Mulch, Leaves, & Cover Crops | Tips 1-3
If I could only get a few things done to prepare the garden for winter (and make it better in spring), I would:
- Protect tender plants and bulbs that cannot withstand the cold,
- Store garden supplies that the cold might destroy (like garden hoses) and
- Gather leaves for mulching and improve the soil.
While you can amend your soil any time, it takes many months for the benefits of compost, humus, and other enrichers to actually work their way down to plant roots.
Improving the soil in fall will provide a huge kick-start to your spring garden.
See more here: Mulch, Leaves, & Cover Crops
2. Planting Bulbs | Tips 4-10
Fall is the time to plant bulbs that require a dormant period of cooler temperatures to perform their best in spring.
It’s also the time to remove tender bulbs from the ground, including dahlias, which may require protection from wicked winter conditions.
See more here: Planting Bulbs
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3. Tender Plant Care | Tips 11-15
During the fall many gardeners move a lot of their tender plants indoors to protect them during the winter months. Depending on how many you have, it can be a huge task, but it saves a lot of money as the plants can be reintroduced to the outdoors when the warmer weather returns.
Before bringing plants indoors, they should be given a spray bath to remove unwanted pests and bugs. No need to buy harmful chemicals for this: you can make your own (easy) dormant spray at home.
See more here: Tender Plant Care
4. Fall Chores Checklists | Tips 16-19
It’s so interesting to see how each gardener prioritizes their fall chores. Much of it depends on your climate and what you’re growing.
My priority is to get the veggie beds turned around. Sometimes I plant a winter veg garden, and sometimes the beds need a cover crop and a rest until spring.
See more here: Fall Chores Checklists
5. Tool Care | Tips 20-23
If you have a favourite garden tool, take good care of it! There’s something quite beautiful about keeping good quality tools in top condition and learning how to repair them as needed.
You’ll also find some tips here for how to keep tools sharp.
See more here: Tool Care
6. Pruning & Trimming | Tips 24-32
Cut it or let it go? That is the question. Some plants need pruning at certain times of year for their own benefit (to fruit and flower, and to prevent unhealthy growth). Other plants are easy going.
I’m so fond of the winter birds hanging around, that I let my fall garden become a mess of seed heads, and resist the temptation to clean it up until spring.
That said, there are a few things that can’t wait, as you’ll see in the tips.
See more here: Pruning & Trimming
7. Birds & Bees | Tips 33-40
My favourite part of winter? Winter birds! When we’re knee deep in snow, the birds are the one breath of activity and life. Each day I put on my tallest boots, trudge out through the snow, clean and refill the feeders, make sure there is fresh, running water available, and hang up some nutrient rich treats.
Have a look at these tips to get ideas for making your birds happy through the bitter cold.
See more here: Birds & Bees
You can find the bird feeders I recommend in the Empress of Dirt Amazon Shop (affiliate links).
I hope you’ve found this helpful and happy hibernating to you! Soup’s on!