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Winter Gardening Do’s and Don’ts

How to protect your winter garden from harsh weather conditions and near-freezing temps? One might think gardening isn’t possible during winter, but there’s so much to be done!

In this guide, let’s look at some dos and don’ts when caring for your winter garden.

Read: Protecting Your Garden from Snow & Frost

Winter Gardening Tips and Tricks

Winter Garden Dos

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DO add mulch: A layer of mulch helps insulate the soil, protecting the tree roots from the cold. It also works as a barrier that protects the plant from harsh winds. Mulch also preserves moisture, allowing the plant to thrive in the winter without frequent watering.

DO add compost: Your plants need a constant supply of nutrients to survive the winter cold. Adding compost improves the soil’s nutrient profile, ensuring the plants survive the cold season. Be sure to add composts that are no more than three inches thick.

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DO transfer potted plants indoors: Some plants cannot survive the winter cold and if you have potted plants that love warm, humid environments, better take these inside where the temperature is warmer and more stable. For in-ground plants, these can be watered as long as the climate is mild.

DO protect plants from the winter cold: Cold frames, row covers, landscape fabric, cloches, and other plant protection should be installed in the garden just as the winter season sets in. Such structures help trap warm air, protecting the plants from cold temperatures while allowing air, light, and water to seep through. Don’t remove the covers unless the temperature rises; plant covers do not need to be removed for watering.

DO create (and stick to!) a planting calendar: A well-planned garden will survive the winter cold. Plan everything from the time to plant seeds to transplanting seedlings. Include indoor and indoor planting dates in your calendar. If you’re using herb kits, seed packets, plant tags, etc., check the instructions to ensure you’re planting at the ideal times.

DO continue planting in warm winters: It’s possible to continue planting in a place with warm winters. Some flowering plants and crops do prefer milder winters where the temperature won’t burn their foliage or dry the soil. Check the local nursery and ask an expert to determine which plants are best to plant during the warm winter season and plan accordingly.

DO complete your winter garden tasks before the cold temps set in: Don’t wait until the dead of winter to complete your gardening tasks. Create a list of to-dos in and around the garden and start working on these tasks as the winter season nears. Order supplies in advance, install protective structures in the garden, amend the soil, add the mulch, and clean your garden tools as the winter season sets in. Work on a schedule to ensure you’ll complete all your tasks at the right time!

Winter Garden Don’ts

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Don’t cut too close to the trunk: Pruning, often done during the winter season, can be incredibly helpful in boosting plant health and improving safety in the garden. However, it can take its toll on the trees if you cut too close to the trunk.

Trees need time to recover from pruning, and if you’ve been aggressive with the cuts, it makes a recovery very slow for the plants. Also, trees have an increased risk of infestation and diseases while recovering from aggressive pruning, so cut mindfully.

Don’t amend the frozen soil with fertilizers or chemicals: When the soil is frozen, nutrients from the fertilizers aren’t absorbed as quickly. There is a risk that the fertilizers will be washed off the soil surface and pollute the waterways. The plants won’t benefit from the fertilizers, so add fertilizers only when the soil is easier to work with.

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Don’t skip the watering: Freezing temps won’t stop plants from being thirsty, so during dry periods when the soil isn’t frozen solid or covered in snow, water as needed. A deep, once-a-week watering should be enough to hydrate plants throughout the winter season.

Common Questions About Gardening During Winter

How do you keep your lawn healthy in colder weather?

There are many ways of keeping the lawn healthy when the temperature drops. One of the most important is to amend the soil before the winter season. Apply only the recommended amount when the ground is easy to work with – meaning, it’s not frozen or covered in snow. Late fall is the best time to amend the soil for the winter season.

It’s equally important to boost air circulation, so the grass remains green and healthy. You can get an aerator to enhance the lawn’s air circulation or use a spade to take out spikes of soil across the lawn.

Planting cool-weather grass seeds all over the lawn is also an excellent strategy for keeping your outdoor space lush despite the cold temperatures. Sprinkle evenly over the yard with the same spreader you used for fertilizers.

Finally, clean your outdoor space before the winter season sets in. Use a rake to break up and level the soil. Water the lawn and keep the soil moist. Remove unwanted debris in the yard, including decors and toys, because these could smother the grass or attract pests and diseases.

What do you do in your garden in the winter?

Essentially, you want to prepare your plants for harsh winds and cold temperatures. Preparing the garden for the winter includes cleaning up all over the yard and removing diseased, dying plants and unwanted debris. You need to protect healthy plants from the harsh cold with plant covers. Insulating the soil is just as important, so a nice layer of mulch will trap the heat and ensure the survival of healthy plants during the winter season.

How do I keep my lawn healthy in the winter?

It’s essential to keep the soil and the plants healthy before the winter season begins so they can get the best start once the temperature drops. A well-planned irrigation system is essential to lead water away from certain parts of the garden and prevent plants from drowning once the snow melts. It’s also vital to mow close to the ground and keep the soil moist to boost grass seed germination. Fertilize the lawn so plants and grass will grow deeper roots, and re-seed any bare spots on the lawn.

What should I put on my lawn for the winter?

Apart from installing plant covers to protect plants from winds and the bitter cold, apply fertilizer to the soil to keep the grass green throughout the winter season. You want to keep the turf aerated to prevent the soil from compaction and to reseed bare spots to maintain a uniform green lawn.

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The freezing cold is hard on the plants, so preparing the garden late in the fall season is the best way to ensure their survival. For more winter gardening tips, check out our blog!

Alternatively, head over to ECOgardener shop for gardening supplies sold in bundles and take advantage of the great savings!