Your flowerbeds looked great this year. You want them to look great again next year too. There are a few things that you should do as far as fall garden preparation is concerned before winter weather sets in.
- Water- Flowering shrubs and perennials should be watered in the fall, especially during prolonged dry periods. Make sure to only water when the soil and air temperatures are above 40 degrees, and there is no snow on the ground.
- Cutting vs. Standing- There are differing opinions about cutting down perennials vs. leaving them standing over the winter.
- Standing- Some perennials have seed heads or foliage that can add interest to your winter landscape. They can also draw birds to your garden to feast on those seeds. Some birds even hide amongst the stems in the wintertime. Standing stems can also help you to keep track of where the flowers are planted come springtime, so you don’t accidentally damage them when you dig.
- Cutting- If you’ve had a problem with foliage diseases, then cutting back perennials in the fall may be wise. Some gardeners simply prefer a cleaner look in the winter, so they cut their plants down. If you decide to cut, wait until your plants have gone dormant. This is usually after a few hard frosts. You should cut the plants to within 2-3 inches of the crown. If you cut it too close, you may injure the plant. The buds for the next season’s growth are at the surface or even higher for some perennials. Once you’ve cut them back, you should mulch the area with a thick layer of straw or leaves.
- Planning- Your fall garden preparation includes planning for new beds in the spring. If you intend to extend your existing beds or you want to start a whole new plot come spring, you’ll need to prepare the area. Lay out the dimensions of your new bed, then cover the area with mulch or heavy plastic. This will keep the current grass or other plants that are there now from coming up once the weather warms up in the spring.
With a little TLC, your garden can survive the winter. A little fall garden preparation is worth the results come spring. Your flowerbeds will show their gratitude for your ministrations by putting on a gorgeous display next season, giving you the perfect outdoor space to enjoy with your family.