While some New Yorkers are currently feeling those first false spring feels, others are staring out into a frozen, snow-covered backyard. Either way, it can be hard to imagine your landscape in full bloom during these February days, but spring will be here soon enough.
There are several essential steps to take in your garden in the winter months to make sure that you have optimal conditions once the planting season comes around. Take the following steps in the wintertime to ensure you have a beautiful, lush spring garden.
Winter Gardening Tips
These things are always better to complete in the fall before the first freeze, but if you haven’t done them yet, it’s better to tackle them now than never.
- Remove dead or diseased parts of plants to prevent further decay, which also prevents pests from staying around and encourage new growth for spring.
- If the soil isn’t frozen in your local area, test the pH to determine if you need to amend the soil with acidic- or alkaline-building materials. Limestone additives help neutralize acidic soil while adding compost helps balance alkaline soil. Since soil pH can take time to adjust, starting in the winter is ideal.
- Cover cold-sensitive plants with mulch, plant cones, or burlap wraps.
- Take inventory of garden tools and equipment. Ensure all your tools are clean and organized and take your existing tools to be repaired or replaced. The lawnmower repair shops are generally much less busy this time of year, so turnaround times are much quicker.
- Be prepared for freezes. Even though it may feel in some parts of New York that we may never feel the freeze, we will likely still have more nights of frost. Ensure the irrigation system is drained and turned off to prevent extensive damage. Remove the hose from the spigot and store hoses and sprinklers in a dry area. Stock up on garden tarps to cover any plants that need additional protection from the cold or wind.
- Use this time to plan for spring. Meet with your landscape architect or gardener, or start researching what plants you’re hoping to make room for to enhance your garden. Price out any equipment you may need, and visit your local nursery to make connections and discuss options for the coming spring.
- With springtime approaching, plant hardier plants indoors and prepare to transfer them outdoors to the ground once the threat of frost has turned to an assured thaw in early spring.
Maintaining your garden during winter months will make you feel like you’re ahead of the game when the spring gardening season rolls around, and will help you maintain your feeling of being an attentive and thoughtful homeowner.
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