Landscapers know that preparation in the fall and early winter can make a big difference in the coming spring and summer. The right preparations for perennials will assure homeowners that these plants will be back in full and beautiful glory in the new year. Poor management may stunt or kill many perennials.
When Do You Prepare Your Gardens for Winter?
The answer to when to prepare depends on the climate and location. When pruning is involved, one suggestion or rule of thumb, according to Urban Cultivator, is to prune based upon when the plant typically blooms in the following year. For example, if the plant is likely to bloom in early spring through June, then pruning should be performed in the late fall. If the plant is a late bloomer, preparation in the early spring is preferred.
Start by Clearing Out the Dead Annuals
All the plants that have died after the first frost should be cleared out and discarded to prevent these from developing diseases and harboring insect eggs during the winter. The soil does remain active beneath the surface until it entirely freezes as earthworms continue to produce organic material and bulbs continue to develop their root systems. Mulching beds at this time can be very beneficial in keeping the soil temperatures steady during the winter months.
For perennials, there are several steps that landscapers practice that support future development. Below are some of these:
- Eliminate dry stems to ground level to prevent disease and certain spores from developing.
- Consider composting the dead materials. Active compost enriches the soil and prevents diseases from developing.
- For evergreens shrubs and plants, remove any sickly or potentially diseased growth. Discard these as they may not be a proper addition to a composted mixture. Clear away the old mulch that may have deteriorated over the summer.
- Spread new mulch or organic materials around the perennials. However, it is best to wait until the ground freezes substantially before applying the winter cover. Waiting until freezing prevents rodents from nesting in the mulch while the material is still loose and penetrable.
Snow protects the plants by keeping the temperatures stable beneath the surface. Until a hard freeze establishes, the soil remains active by continuing to process organic material that promotes further root growth for plants that bloom in the springtime.