He doesn’t mean to be so grumpy. It’s just because his heart is two sizes too small. He lives on Mount Crumpit above the town of Whoville and steals their Christmas toys, decorations, and food. But, don’t let him ruin your garden too. Be sure your garden is put to bed properly before it gets too cold. Chances are, it may have already dropped below 32 degrees once or twice in your neighborhood, but you still have time to finish getting your yard ready for winter. Here are some things you should remember to do.
Winterizing Your Trees
Of course, you cannot dig up your trees and shrubs and bring them in every year for the winter. However, there are some things to do. The first thing is something you should do before you plant a tree or shrub that you know you cannot bring in during winter. Make sure what you are planting is able to live in your zone. Sometimes you can go to Walmart or even a garden store and see some beautiful trees and shrubs, take them home and plant them only to find out next spring that they died because they cannot live in your zone. I am not sure why they sell these plants that cannot possibly live in our zones, but they do, and you need to be aware of what you are buying.
For those trees and shrubs that are able to make it through the winter, they will still need to be prepared and protected. There's simple things you can do to make sure they survive the cold. First of all, Remove any dead limbs and damage to the trees. If you have to make any cuts, make them small because you don’t want to expose them too much to the cold. Prune the branches down that will touch the ground when they get weighed down from the snow and ice. Spread a layer of mulch to blanket the soil that reaches out as far as the branches reach out. If you have any young trees, wrap them with special tree wrap you can get at any garden store. Cut any berry bushes that bloom in the fall all the way to the ground because they will have new shoots next year.
Cleaning It Up
This may be the most boring and tedious gardening job, but it is also the most important. You do not want to leave the yard a mess and just let the leaves, and then the snow cover it up until spring, even though that is a pretty tempting idea. Nope, you cannot do that because this can actually harm your lawn and plants. Make sure your grass is cut to a fairly short length and don’t leave too many dead leaves on the ground. Vacuum them up and put them around the base of your trees and shrubs as mentioned above.
Clear all the dead plants and annuals from the garden. Toss them in the compost pile with the leftover leaves after you cover your trees and shrubs. Now is also a great time to pull up those weeds. Some people figure that they will just die over the winter anyway and most of them do. However, not all of them. Weeds are pretty hardy and can live through almost anything. You may just leave one tiny weed thinking it will die when it snows and then go out there next spring to see that that one little weed has taken over the whole garden! Better to get them out now and toss them into the compost pile too.
Winterize Your Water Features
If you have any kind of water features like a pond or even just a small container water garden, they need to be taken care of before it starts to snow. The small water features you can just drain them and put them away. Make sure you wipe it out thoroughly and dry it as good as you can. You can use a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water to clean out the tank as well. Then put it somewhere it does not freeze like your basement or garage. Don’t just put them in the shed because it probably gets too cold there unless you have an insulated and heated shed. Do you? That would be cool. Anyway, most sheds are too cold.
Larger water gardens or ponds have to be taken care of differently. Clean all the dead plants, debris, and leaves out of the water. A pool skimmer is an easy way to do this. If it is really dirty, you may need to drain it and clean it before it gets too cold. Take out any fish or other critters you have in there, drain it, clean it with the bleach solution or a pond cleaner that they sell at pet or garden stores, and then fill it back up. Make sure the pH and temperature are both at the right levels before you put the critters back in. Put the plants into the deeper section so they will not freeze. You need to have a pump or aerator in your pond to keep the water from freezing during the winter as well.
So, you got all that work done, and now you can go inside and stay warm with a cup of hot chocolate, a snuggly blanket, and a kitty or two. In a few months, you will get to go out and start the garden over again, and you will not have to worry about the Grinch ruining your garden. But, if you have a chimney, make sure you keep an eye out, so he doesn’t get in there and steal your presents.