It is imperative that you take steps to protect your garden through the cold and snowy days of winter. However, there are times when you should not be proactive, but rather inactive. In other words, don’t take an action or don’t neglect to take action.
Certain don’ts as it pertains to caring for your garden during the winter include:
· Don’t Plant Late. For example, if you plant perennials too close to winter, then the alternating freezing and thawing will actually shove plants around forcing them out of the soil or exposing their crowns. Although it is true that you can plant shrubs and trees closer to winter, the best you can do to assure better survival rates is to plant about six weeks before the soil freezes.
· Don’t Prune Shrubs. Pruning plants encourages them to produce new growth, which is highly susceptible to freezing temperatures. Wait to prune your shrubs until spring. Target late August to schedule final pruning so plants can toughen up before freezing temperatures arrive.
· Don’t Neglect Watering New Trees. If you plant trees in the fall, they will need watering into the first days of winter. If the soil does not freeze and there is no snow, provide the trees with water whenever temperatures are above freezing.
· Don’t Forget to Deadhead Self-Sowing Plants. Don’t allow self-sowing plants to go to seed. Clip the seed heads on plants that aggressively self-sow.
· Don’t Skip Mulching. Mulch helps prevent frost heave around new plants that may not have an established root system. The root helps to anchor the plants in the soil as the winter freeze alternates with thaws. It is suggested that you put down a 2-inch thick layer of mulch around the base of a plant to protect the roots.
· Don’t spray weeds during the winter. Most of the common chemicals used to kill weeds instruct that you spray when temperatures are above 50° F. Plants including weeds stop growing as the soil temperature drops to about 50°. So spraying would be a waste of time. The best time to spray against weeds is in the fall.
· Don’t Wait Until Snow Fall to Clean Up the Garden. The best time to clean up the garden is before snowfall arrives. This helps reduce resting places for pests and diseases that hide once the snow comes.
· Don’t Permit Vegetable Crops That Host Pests to Survive. Destroy spent vegetables that carry pests like Mexican bean beetles. Pull them out of the soil and dispose of them as well as fallen leaves in bags and leave them at the curb for the garbage collectors to pick up.
· Don’t Forget to Wrap Vulnerable Shrubs and Trees. Cover them with burlap to protect them from the cold. Protect trunks against rodents by placing mouse bait in containers near the base of the plant and spray evergreens with an anti-transpirant before wrapping in burlap.
· Don’t Forget To Protect Tree Trunks. During the winter food becomes scarce for little critters like rabbits and mice. Those pests will munch on the bark of trees and shrubs. Put tree guards around young tree trunks and put hardware mesh around shrubs. Try to attract owls and hawks that feed on these animals with poles of artificial perch.