I have had quite a few clients and friends, and clients who have become friends, ask me how to prepare their gardens for the winter. Now we’ve had real snow cover and the colder weather is here to stay, here are a few things you still can do to tuck your garden in for the winter.
- Now that the ground is frozen, you can mulch your perennials. The reason you wait until the ground has frozen, is that critters can nestle in right under the mulch (like the leaves from your neighbor’s trees) and make their cozy home there for the winter right next to a food source, the crown of your perennial. The mulch doesn’t have to be fancy at all. For instance if you have straw bales left from your fall decorations, you can use them. You can also use traditional shredded wood mulch or compost. lay 2 to 3 inches right up to the stems.
- Here in Oak Lawn, the ground freeze came only in the last few days as we still had temps in the 40’s last week. Unfortunately the snow came nearly simultaneously as the freeze. So it’s too late to put mulch down if you didn’t do so already. What you can do is remove any heavy snow from sagging branches. Do so gently with a broom. Don’t knock the broom on the bush, just sweep the snow off. If the branches have frozen to the ground, gently lift the branches with the broom and then sweep.
- Prune any branches that the snow or ice may have broken. No buzz cuts, just a trim.
- When you are shoveling snow, try not to bury the hedges just because you think they can take it. Instead, get a good work out by distributing the snow to the rest of the yard. Fling it if you got it.
- Also, be careful where you put your salt and what kind of salt you use. Actually try to use calcium or phosphate based de-icing products instead of salt based products around your garden. If you have to use the rough stuff then when we have a thaw between the snow falls, water those plants that are affected by the salt (like those near a walkway or driveway). The water will dilute the salt, and lessen the damage caused by the salt.
- One last note, don’t use the Styrofoam cones to cover your roses. Critters love to make those warm cozy spaces their winter homes and they’ll invite their friends for dinner. Hybrid roses are heartier than you think. So ditch the cones.
The snow covering the garden brings a striking beauty that is peaceful and every bit as relaxing as the vibrancy of summer. So don’t work too hard. Relax and and enjoy the view you and Mother Nature have created.