Winterizing your Garden

  • In autumn or before the first hard frost, remove all annuals from beds, borders and gardens. These may be added to a compost pile.  Hand pull weeds, bag and dispose elsewhere.
  • In autumn or late fall when perennials have finished flowering, cut back top-growth to the ground or crown of plant unless you leave seed heads for birds to feed on. Clear weeds from the surrounding soil, leaving beds and borders neat and tidy.

Quick Tip: If it’s brown, cut it down…

  • Most perennials can be divided in late autumn or early spring during their dormant period.
  • Some exceptions are Russian Sage, Lupines, and Oriental Poppies that resent division.

Quick Tip:  Divide most early blooming perennials in fall and most mid-to-late blooming perennials in spring

  • Some plants appreciate their top-growth be left in place until early spring. This offers the dormant crown some protection against winter cold.  If the plant has attractive seed heads that look good when brown or with snow or frost on them, leave them standing for winter interest. In the spring cut back and dispose of dead plant material as soon as new growth begins.
  • If mulch in perennial beds has broken down add more to maintain a 2-3” depth, avoiding the area immediately around the plant crown.  It is not necessary to add mulch to your annual beds at this time. Mulch helps to conserve soil moisture by reducing surface evaporation and improving humus levels in the soil.  Organic mulches also provide nutrients and are helpful in maintaining a healthy, fertile soil.

Most perennials also perform better in spring if an application of straw, prairie or salt-marsh hay, shredded wood or evergreen boughs has been made in late autumn after the first hard frost. This helps protect roots and crowns against winter damage and to keep plants from frost heaving.  Avoid materials that compact, such as sawdust, un-shredded leaves or grass clippings.  The need for protection is greatest when planting at the northern limit of a variety’s hardiness rating.

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