The Turkey Trot Is Over! Putting Your Garden To Bed Part 2: Winterizing Your Garden
It's now mid
December, and if the recently cold temperatures haven't had you already thinking about winter - it's time to start !. Thanksgiving snuck up on us a little early this year, and Old Man Winter seems to be coming in just as quickly - but there's no sneaking around these cold temps.
Drying winds and heavy snow can cause a myriad of problems in the garden. Winterization isn't difficult, it's very similar to the regular garden maintenance you perform all year long.
Landscaping with natives and other plants well suited to our growing zone (Zone 6) goes a long way to keeping your garden healthy over the winter. New plants don't develop their full cold-hardiness until they're mature, and sometimes newer plants need a few years to develop their full cold-hardy potential. In the meantime, provide younger plants with some extra protection.
1. Guard Against Deer. It's Connecticut. About the only places I haven't seen deer (yet) is right on the water. There are a number of decent deer repellents out there, but it's best to train deer all season. Yes, I said train. A deer is much less likely to go snooping around your garden if you use deer repellent all year long. They learn that there are other gardens that are easier access or don't smell/taste as bad as yours. Granted, a hungry deer is going to eat anything, so if we get a lot of snow cover for a prolonged period of time your garden may be more at risk.
2. Protect Evergreens From Windburn. Although evergreens are the backbone of the garden, some more delicate evergreens such as Arborvitae can benefit from protection from the wind. When the ground is frozen and the winds are whipping, evergreen plants are still respiring. They lose water just as we do when we breathe, but with the ground frozen, they can't take up any additional water to make up for what's been lost. They "chap" just like our lips. Water your evergreens thoroughly a handful of times before the ground freezes (although this year with all the rain we've had that's unnecessary). Protect them from the wind by wrapping them in burlap, or, if you're around in the winter and still want to see your shrubs and not look at burlap until May, you can spray them thoroughly with an anti-dessicant such as Wilt-Proof. This acts as a chapstick for your plants.
2. Do A Final Weeding. You may look in your garden and think "There's only a handful of weeds and they're really little". "AHA, I GOT "EM!" the weeds say to each other (insert evil laugh here). Those small little weeds that don't really look like a big deal are harboring tons of seeds. They look small and innocent, but come spring, they'll fill your garden with even more weeds creating much more work for you than need be.
3. Care For Your Containers. Concrete and even resin containers can crack with the freeze-thaw cycle we have in CT. It's best to empty your containers and bring them into a shed or into your garage if you don't have a shed. If your pots are too heavy or large to bring in, wrap them with bubble wrap and cover the entire pot in plastic to ensure no rain or snow gets in so it doesn't cause your pot to crack.
4. Apply A Fall Fertilizer. Applying a fall fertilizer, most importantly to your lawn, ensures there are nutrients there when the spring season comes and your lawn wakes ups from it's dormant state.
5. Mow Your Lawn Short. Mowing your lawn short - to about 2.5" - helps prevent any fungal disease from a snow-covered lawn.
6. Bring In Hoses. Bring in your hoses and empty your hose bibs. Shut off the water inside and then run the water outside to drain the bib.