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Preparing your garden for winter

As the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter, it’s time to think about preparing your yard for the chilly months ahead. Gardening expert Rebecca P. Cohen shares her tips for making sure your vegetation sprouts strong this spring.

Garden covered in snow

Getting your garden ready for winter is simple! Outdoor lifestyle and gardening expert Rebecca P. Cohen of Rebecca Plants, LLC has some great tips that will ensure your trees, plants and flowers are ready to thrive when the frost breaks.

Protect young trees with guards

Put plastic or wire mesh tree guards around the slender trunks of any new trees and shrubs to protect them from gnawers such as rabbits and mice. Make sure the guards you use are higher than potential snowfall gets in your area (go a few more inches than you think you need in case it’s a bad winter).

Continue to water trees

Keep watering your trees, especially evergreens, until the ground freezes. Evergreens need a good store of moisture going into winter because they don’t lose their leaves, which means they continue to transpire (give off water vapor) through the cold months.

Rake up fallen leaves

Don’t let dry leaves stack up. Rake them up each week instead of leaving the job until all the leaves have fallen. In fall, lawn grass still needs sunlight so it can create sugars to store in its root system for good growth next spring. Allowing the leaves to stay on top of the lawn can smother the grass and weaken it.

Consider shredding the leaves and using them as winter mulch on your flower beds. You can also add shredded leaves to the compost pile. In a season or so, they’ll make the best treat your garden soil can have.

shovelPerennial garden cleanup

Whether you cut down dying perennial foliage when you’re getting the garden ready for winter is up to you. Some gardeners like to leave seed heads and dried foliage for winter interest and to feed birds. Others prefer to prepare neat beds ready for a show of spring-flowering bulbs.

Plant your spring bulbs

This is still a good time to plant spring-flowering bulbs before the ground freezes hard. Plant healthy bulbs in well-drained soil to prevent rotting during the cooler months. If rodents eating your bulbs is a danger, you can purchase cages to ensure the little pests stay out. If cages aren’t an option, try sprinkling a little red pepper in the hole.


Snow can both protect and endanger your garden. Snow on the ground insulates the soil below and causes no danger to your garden, however snow that piles up on branches and foliage can risk breakage. Do your best to remove snow build-up on your trees and shrubs, starting from the lower, more burdened branches and making your way up slowly.

Watch: How to grow seeds inside

In this episode learn how to effectively grow seeds in-doors.

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The basics of companion gardening
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