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May, 2016
Putting the Garden to Bed
Chandler Moran

700_burlap-tree-wrapped For many of us sun-lovers, this time of year can be somewhat bittersweet. We can acutely feel minutes of daylight being chopped short day by day, and there are whispers of snow in the wind. Soon it will be time to put our gardens to bed for the winter. If you are new to gardening, the last cleanup can seem like a daunting task. You may be wondering when to start, or even what to do. Here are some good starting points, and a loose guideline of what to do to prepare your garden for winter.

Personal preference is very important in deciding when to put your garden to bed. Nature doesn’t go by a calendar, so it’s hard to give any time of exact date for when you should do your final cleanup for the season. You may still be enjoying some color on your annuals. Or, you may want to clean out the annual pots as soon as possible to make room for fall arrangements, such as Mums and Kale. Some people start cutting back perennials in September, and this can be beneficial because it keeps leaves and debris from getting caught in them, and can make leaf cleanup easier. Some people like to wait until after the first frost, which can make things easier because the foliage of many perennials will detach from the roots at this time, so instead of cutting back, the foliage can be raked up instead (although it is sometimes heavier in this form, especially if it is wet). There is no law that says you even have to put a garden to bed in the fall; it all has to do with how much work you want to do in the spring to open the garden back up again. Over-wintered debris can be heavy in spring, but leaving seed heads for the winter is beneficial for birds and small animals, especially if you have native plants.

Most perennials can be cut back in the fall when the foliage starts to yellow. This includes things such as: peonies (NOT tree peonies); hosta; lily of the valley; anemone; daylilies; columbine; ornamental grasses; and phlox- just to name a few. Be careful about cutting back woody perennials such as hydrangeas and roses, as some of these should be cut back in the spring after forming their new buds. If you’re not sure about whether or not to cut back a specific perennial, check the internet, or your local library for books about Northern perennial gardens, or you could visit your local garden center to ask for advice (bring a sample if you’re not sure what the perennial is). Fall is also a good time to divide and transplant crowded perennials, because it gives the newly planted material time to establish their roots before the frost, and more time in the early spring before hot dry weather sets in. Keep in mind that newly transplanted material in fall needs to be watered regularly until the first frost. Once you’ve divided perennials, and maybe have some empty space, you could plant bulbs for the spring. “J” at the Garden Center recommends planting bulbs as close to the first frost as possible, or even after the first frost before the ground freezes. This will keep the bulbs from “accidentally” putting up new growth before winter, which can affect how they grow in the spring, and also prevents them from rotting in soil that is too warm. Check the bulbs before you plant them, if they’re mushy they’re no good. Also, be sure to wear gloves, as some bulbs can cause an allergic skin reaction in some people (Hyacinths are notorious for this, but at least they’re deer-proof!).

An important part of cleaning up for winter is to do a final weeding viagra im ausland kaufen. This will prevent weeds from going to seed before the frost, and also gives you a chance to dig out some of the tougher weeds that grow from spreading rhizomes (think bind-weed, chameleon plant, etc.). If you are ok with using herbicides, now is a good time to use a pre-emergent weed control. This will help cut down on the weeding you will have to do in the spring, as it creates a barrier against germinating seeds. Mulching at this time can be beneficial as it can help protect the roots of more sensitive shrubs such as roses, and also will still look fresh in the spring, but it is not absolutely necessary.

Some other last things to consider are putting a burlap screen around broad-leaf evergreens to protect them from deer damage and moisture loss. Outdoor water fixtures should be turned off and drained before the frost. You can also use this time to organize your tools for spring. The most important thing to remember is that good gardening takes trial and error, and is purely subjective. Every person is different, and this is the same for gardens. Do what works for you and the garden, and if it doesn’t work, you can always try again next year.

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