The end of the growing season is fast approaching; if you are like most gardeners, the fall (and the coming winter months) mean it’s time to prepare your garden for winter. Winter brings risks for your plants and flowers, but there are plenty of things you can do in autumn to protect your beds from ruin.
This being said, it is important to remember that not all perennials will be able to withstand outdoor conditions during winter – many hardy perennials require cool temperatures to go dormant in preparation for spring properly. In contrast, tender perennials cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to cold weather, which can cause irreparable damage. Here are some tips on how you can get your garden ready for cold weather:
Ensure your garden beds are weed-free
Weeds will not only make it harder for your plants to thrive, but they can also hog water and nutrients from other plants in your flowerbeds.
Remove debris / old leaves from beds
Removing spent flowers and leaves makes it easier to see the extent of plant damage or death, allowing you to properly assess whether or not any action needs to be taken. Additionally, if you rake up fall leaves, these can be used as mulch next season – place them at the base of perennials that need additional protection during the winter months!
Make sure the remaining flowers have sufficient drainage
Water retention is a serious problem for many perennials with extensive root systems; it is further exacerbated when snow or heavy frost gets caught in flowers, weighing them down and making them even more susceptible to waterlogging. Many species of perennials cannot survive until spring if they cannot dry out after periods of excessive rain or mismanaged irrigation.
In the dying days of Autumn, it might be tempting to give your plants a little helping hand by feeding them with additional fertilizer – but this could prove fatal for certain plants that require a period of cold weather before going dormant for winter! Additionally, a late application of fertilizers will not only kill beneficial microbes in your soil but can have adverse effects on non-hardy plants.
Root prune your plants
If you wish to reduce the size of any particularly large perennials, now is an ideal time to apply the process of root pruning. This technique involves digging around in the soil surrounding a perennial plant and cutting off excess roots straying too far into neighboring beds.
Prepare for winter by covering vulnerable flowers/plants
Many tender perennials require some cold weather preparation before they can withstand prolonged exposure to frost; this typically means removing them from their pots and placing them in cold frames, unheated greenhouses, or even your garage ( if it remains cold enough )! Keep an eye on what needs covering every Autumn.
Clean up bird droppings
Bird dropping can cause permanent discoloration, not to mention a serious risk of inviting fungal infections into your beds! To clean bird droppings off perennials, use a pressure washer and some soapy water – the sooner you do this, the better.
Remove dead or dying branches from trees
Dead or dying branches pose a threat to your garden – they are often the first place where diseases start before spreading themselves throughout entire trees.