Ready or not, here comes winter! For many folks, winter means the end of outdoor gardening. Before you close up shop for the season, take a moment or two to address some final garden chores. These simple tasks don’t need to take hours, but they’ll make for a better gardening experience when spring finally arrives.
Mark Plant Locations.
Now’s the time to use sturdy plant markers to note the location of any new perennials, bulbs, or seeds you might forget about come spring. There’s nothing more frustrating than accidentally weeding out seedlings in the spring along with pesky weeds, or planting something on top of something else without realizing it. There’s no need for anything fancy – try a permanent marker and paint stirrer stick, topped with a coat of clear gloss spray enamel. You don’t need it to look pretty; you just need it to last until spring.
Protect Your Roses.
If you’re a rose gardener, this is one of those garden chores that goes without saying. But if you’re new to growing roses, or have a special rose bush you’d like to protect, this chore is worth a few minutes of your time. Get tips on how to protect your roses in winter here.
Lift Tender Bulbs.
Some plants grow well outdoors in the summer, but just can’t take the winter cold. These include plants like dahlias, gladioli, and tuberous begonias, depending on where you live. Lifting plants generally involves digging them up carefully, ridding them of excess dirt, allowing the bulb or tuber to dry out, and storing carefully in a cool dry place for the winter (garages are often ideal, but protect your treasures from mice). If you need help, do a web search for your specific plant type and the word “overwinter”.
Clean Your Tools.
It’s true that this is one of those garden chores that might take more than 5 minutes, depending on how many tools you have. At the very minimum, though, fall is the time to give everything a good spray-down with the garden hose to remove excess dirt, and allow them to dry thoroughly before storing them away to avoid rust. Bonus: Drain your garden hoses and bring them in when you’re done, since water left in hoses over winter can lead to cracking and bursting.
Leave the Leaves.
This last chore takes the least amount of time, but possibly the most willpower! Many of us were brought up to believe we must tidy up our yards in the fall, removing all the fallen leaves. In truth, you might be doing more harm than good. Many organisms overwinter in that leaf litter, including some butterfly larvae and chrysalises. Leaves break down in your garden beds due to the winter weather, adding valuable organic material. The leaves also provide shelter and warmth for wildflowers and other plants growing below. Make things easy on yourself this fall – leave the leaves alone!