Winterizing the yard is a very important step that should be done before the cold weather arrives. It helps plants survive the short days and cold nights that winter brings and helps the lawn green-up quickly in the spring.
The first step is dealing with the annuals that are in the garden. You want to remove all the foliage from annuals. This will help prevent the possibility of diseases and insect eggs over the winter, plus it will give you a clean garden to start with in the spring.
The next step is to work on the perennials. Start by cutting back dead stems of perennials to ground level. If you have perennials that are starting to get to big, now is the time to divide them. A good rule of thumb is to divide them about six weeks before the ground freezes. This gives them time to re-establish before the freezing temperatures arrive. Some perennials you may want to consider splitting are plants that are overgrown. This will give them a chance to rejuvenate. These may need to be split every 3 – 5 years.
You can’t forget the evergreens and broadleaf evergreens. If fall has been dry it is important to give these plants a heavy watering. Plants such as boxwood and hollies release moisture through their leaves year-round so hydrating them will aid in preventing wind burn. You can also apply Wiltpruf to broad-leaf evergreens, this is an anti-transpirant that aids in reducing moisture loss. Upright evergreens such as junipers and cedars should be wrapped in burlap. This helps prevent sun and wind burn as well as protecting branches from breaking due to the weight of the snow.
It’s time to dig up and store those tender bulbs that may not survive the cold temperatures. It is important to dry them out for several weeks and then put them in a container and cover them with sawdust or sand until they’re ready to be replanted. Spring bulbs need to be planted in the fall once the soil has cooled. Plant these with the pointed side up, this is the stem. Plant them with some bone meal to encourage strong roots.
After cleaning up the garden and replanting divided plants, add some mulch to the beds. The mulch will help insulate the ground for added protection from the cold.
Lastly you can’t forget the lawn. Fall is the most important time to fertilize your lawn. This is the time when the plant is storing nutrients to maintain its health and determines the quality of next spring’s lawn. Feeding in the fall increases root growth and increases the plant’s resistance to disease.