Preparing for Winter in the Garden

As our summer season slowly slides into winter, there are several things you should do to get your yard and garden ready for winter. Clean up is a big part of it, from putting away the patio furniture, to emptying spent annuals from containers, to cutting back perennials, to raking lawns there are plenty of things to warm up the shoulder season prior to the snow flying.

Watering in newly planted perennials, shrubs and trees is particularly important in YYC due to winter chinook winds. Up until the ground freezes, apply water every one to two weeks if weather is dry prior to winter weather. Deep watering allows the ground to hold enough moisture into the winter to get your plants through mid season dry periods. Once the ground is frozen, watering is no longer required unless we get a prolonged dry period then only water very occasionally or pile snow at the base of your plants to slowly melt as needed.

Mulching prior to ground freeze allows for moisture retention, as well as more even soil temperatures throughout the fall, winter, and spring seasons. It also will help with early weed emergence in the spring.

Mid Winter Garden Tasks

 Winter Watering.

Outdoors during periods of dry winter weather, check to see if garden soil is holding moisture. Occasionally water if necessary, and pile snow below trees and shrubs to allow for a slow melt that will provide some moisture without having to drag out the pails and hoses.

Indoors cut back on the amount of water you are providing your house plants. It is always a good idea to check if there is moisture in the soil before watering, stick your finger in the soil or pick up a moisture meter. It’s easy to overwater your plants in the winter, as they’ll need less due to shorter days and lower light levels. Check to make sure heater vents are not blowing directly at your plants and be cautious of cold drafts from open doors or windows. Some yellowing or dropping of leaves is normal as the season changes.

Observe.

Keep an eye on your yard and garden, when snow is on the ground it’s easy to see critter tracks and with leaves off the trees you can easily check them for wind or other damage and prune if necessary.