Having and caring for a garden brings you closer to nature, especially if you live in an apartment in a busy city where you don’t get a lot of green space. Fortunately, Houston, San Francisco, and even Brooklyn apartments for rent often have balconies that you can turn into a garden. However, when the cold weather arrives, those with homes and larger gardens need to prepare accordingly.
With the colder seasons in mind, let’s check out how to best prepare your garden for the cold.
Preparations for the colder seasons
When the leaves start to fall, the first thing to do is rake and clean them up. Empty the gutters and blow the leaves off the roof to prevent the wind from spreading them all over the garden. Fall is also the perfect season to gather a pile of leaves to create compost to fertilize the soil; you can trim the trees around your house and use the twigs and sprigs for compost, as well.
Next, before the ground freezes, feed the roots with as many nutrients as possible. For example, aerate the lawn by punching holes in the ground here and there to help the soil better deliver nutrients. Then, to prepare for the first frost, clean up the plants by removing dead and diseased foliage; also, dig up the more sensitive plants and cover bulbs, corms, and rhizomes with moss and minerals.
If you have a large garden, plant trees, and shrubbery in early fall to ensure their roots are strong enough for winter. Then, fertilize in the last few weeks of September or the first week of October. Also, in mid-fall, plant bulbs for spring flowers, fertilize them and cover the soil to protect them from frost.
Another important practice is to bring more sensitive plants indoors about two weeks before the cold sets in. For this transition, make sure to debug the plants and clean the pots before moving them. If necessary, move larger or overgrown plants into more appropriately sized containers and change their soil.
Winter gardening tips
During winter, be sure not to stop caring for your garden; this is an important season for preparing the plants and the soil for the warmer days to come. If you recently planted something in your garden, add mulch to the ground to stabilize its temperature. In fact, doing so for all of the plants in your garden will protect the roots.
Meanwhile, keep making and adding compost to the ground. This is important to supply the nutrients that naturally exist in the soil; just be sure not to add too much, though, because it could be damaging. And, if a freeze is imminent, water your plants beforehand so the roots will soak up the moisture before the ground freezes.
However, don’t try to force the plants to grow by fertilizing them. They do need rest and winter is their natural dormant period. Moreover, fertilizing will produce new foliage or new tissue, which will be rather fragile and is easily destroyed by cold and fluctuating temperatures.
Preparing the patio
After the dusty months of summer, a lot of rain and snowfall will reach your patio. If you have wooden decking, make sure to treat the wood during the warmer days of fall to make it more resistant to the cold to come. Also, do a thorough sweeping, cover heavy garden furniture, and prepare a cozy corner for the days you want to go outside.
Additionally, if you have kids and plan to play in the snow, design a transitioning area where you can take off shoes and wet clothes, and where you can keep blankets and towels, as well as gloves and extra clothes.
Caring for your garden is a complex task with a lot of variables. In particular, be sure to take into account the weather in your area and the amount of space you have. Also, if you have pets or small children, be mindful of the plants you choose as some are toxic for little ones.