10 Things To Do Before Winter – Your Fall Garden Cleanup
Cleaning up our kitchen after a big holiday festivity can be quite a chore, especially when we’re stuffed absolutely full of delicious food! It’s tempting to leave it to the next morning…but who wants to wake up to piles of dirty pots and pans? We’ve all had a wonderful season this summer, West Coast Gardeners, but I’m afraid it’s now time for your fall garden clean-up. (Imagine your mother’s voice when you read this, hand-on-hip and shaking her finger). A few minutes of clean-up now, can make a world of difference next Spring!
We’ve narrowed it down to 10 ways you can clean-up and prepare your garden for winter and next year’s spring. All of these can all be done in a weekend or less, so buckle down, grab those gloves, and let’s get cracking! (You’ll feel so much better afterwards, just like mom said you would). Here goes:
1. Remove your annuals that have finished blooming and are looking less-than-fresh. It may seem cruel to dig out a plant, but they won’t last the winter and it’s a lot easier to dispose of them now rather than waiting until spring. (We all know, a stitch in time saves nine). It also gives the ground time to refresh before you plant again in the spring.
2. Clean up garden debris. If you’ve had a vegetable or fruit crop this year, then clear out the old plants and any fallen fruit from your yard. It will just rot and attract bugs or rodents. If you are feeling energetic, it’s a great time to till your vegetable garden and add some compost for next year! (Remember: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure).
3. Rake and compost your leaves. This is especially true in the yard, as leaves can suffocate your grass all winter, leaving it brown and dead in the Spring when you should be seeing regrowth. Leaves in the garden beds can either be left as an added layer of compost and protection, or collected and added to your compost bin. (Great advice: In fair weather prepare for foul).
4. Prune your trees and hedges. Look for dead limbs or overgrown areas. Fall is a great time to prune and cut back your shrubs and trees because once the snow and storms hit, it could mean falling limbs or branches as well as unrecoverable plants. (Mom was right: The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today!)
5. Clean those garden tools! It’s tempting to toss them in the shed and forget about them, but your garden tools are an investment that you need to protect. Clean them off, oil them if needed, and keep them in a dry place. Save money next year, when you don’t have to replace them, and buy plants instead! (Remember the wise saying: He who will not economize will have to agonize).
6. Fertilize your lawn. Get your yard ready for it’s long winter’s sleep with some high phosphorous fertilizer that will give its roots a head start for spring. Your grass needs nutritious food all winter too, and no one ever invites it to Christmas dinner. (Don’t forget: Food is an important part of a balanced diet).
7. Keep those plants safe and warm with mulch or compost. Tuck it around the roots and base of your plants to protect them from the cold and also give them a boost of nutrients during the winter months. Adding some Sea Soil, before you mulch and compost, guarantees they will be happy all winter and ready to jump into Spring! (Read all about the amazing benefits of Sea Soil, and why it’s recommended by garden mothers everywhere).
8. Drain your garden hose. Easy to forget, but don’t leave your garden hose out on the lawn, and make sure you drain it and hang it away. (Don’t you remember mom telling you all about how water expands when it freezes? Hope you were listening…)
9. Feed the birds! We may not be out in the garden all winter to enjoy the bird songs, but we should still feed them during the cold season, as this is when they can use the nutrition the most! In addition to hanging feeders, consider leaving some of your plants out for them to munch on. Plants such as sunflowers, coneflower, black-eyed Susans, and anything with berries or seeds (such as grasses) will provide a feast for them and a wildlife show for you! (Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant).
10. If you haven’t already, use our printable Garden Journal to record all the important info about your garden this year, as well as start some planning for next year’s garden! Make a note about the annuals that you loved, the seedlings that grew, how well your vegetables produced, and what you are thinking about doing next summer. (Always good advice: The best preparation for the future is the present well seen to, and the last duty done).
Alright, now you can breathe a sigh of relief and come indoors for the winter, knowing your garden is well cared for and will be waiting for you next spring. With holidays approaching, it’s a weight off your shoulders to have one less thing to worry about and one more item (or 10!) checked off your to-do list. Your mom would be proud!