A lush lawn and blooming flower beds are the pride and joy of many homeowners. Canada’s harsh winters, however, can quickly squash the hard work you’ve put into nurturing and maintaining your outdoor spaces during the summer months. To ensure that your backyard gets off to a good start when spring arrives, a little prep work before the snow hits can do a world of good.
Help prepare your lawn and garden for colder weather this year by following these winterization tips.
Care for your annuals and perennials
When it comes to winterizing your garden beds, show your plants and flowers some love. Start by removing any annuals (plants that are only around for one growing season, such as sunflowers, tomatoes and varieties of lettuce). Removing annuals will rid your beds of lingering bacteria, and prevent any potential pests or diseases from building up during the winter.
For your perennial plants, give them a healthy trim back and a final water before the end of the season. Perennials with large and dense roots can be cut and divided into smaller plants to support better regrowth in the spring.
Bring delicate plants, such as succulents or potted bulbs, indoors to prevent frost damage. Cover any shrubs or plants that can’t be moved inside with landscape fabric or burlap to protect them from harsh weather conditions.
Get down in the dirt
Just like your plants, your soil also needs some help preparing for the winter ahead. Remove any weeds, dead plant debris and buried root vegetables from your soil before the first hard frost sets in. Spread mulch over your soil and around the base of trees to provide a protective layer from frost and a barrier that will help to keep moisture and temperature levels consistent for your plants. When cleaning up your soil, you may also want to consider planting bulbs for the following spring, such as crocus, tulips and daffodils.
Show your lawn a little TLC
The ground gets compacted and cold during the winter, which can make it difficult for lawns to recover post-thaw. Help your lawn out by aerating it in the fall to loosen soil and ensure better drainage. Instead of raking all of the tree leaves off of your lawn, cut your grass long — approximately two to three inches high — and leave a layer of shredded leaves on top. Mowing the leaves into tiny pieces will allow your lawn’s soil to absorb nutrients from the fallen debris more efficiently while still letting light and moisture through. In low-traffic areas where your lawn is patchy and damaged, overseed in the early fall for best results in the spring.
Add a boost of nutrients
As your garden prepares for hibernation, it helps to give your outdoor greens some needed nourishment.
If you have a compost bin, sprinkle this material on your flower beds to help them replenish their nutrients post-winter, and top up your bin with any leaves, grass clippings or debris from your winterization clean up. You can give your lawn a final dose of sustenance too with the help of special winter grass fertilizer that contains nitrogen and potash.
Not all of your fallen leaves have to end up in paper bags. Instead, add mulched leaves to your perennial flower beds and vegetable gardens as an insulating layer and a source of valuable nutrients for the soil.