The crisp cold air of November means it’s time for New Jersey homeowners to start winterizing their gardens. Doing a little work before the deep freeze sets in and snow piles up on the lawn can help gardeners save money and time come spring. It’s also insurance that next year’s garden will be a winner. We’ve outlined eight easy tips below to help you prepare your yard before winter falls. Following these steps should allow both garden and gardener to better weather the winter.
1. Keep up with leaf removal, sort of.
Make sure to remove leaves from your driveway or anywhere that people could slip on them if they get wet or frozen. And definitely keep them out from under cars because they can ignite a fire. But leaves can also be effective at nurturing healthy soil. Gardeners can make leaf mold and winter is the perfect time to do it. Basically, you pile the leaves in a corner, enclose the area with fence or wiring and let Mother Nature work her magic.
2. Cut the grass short.
The grass should be cut to no more than two inches in height in preparation for the winter months. Keeping it short gives the manicured look ahead of the ground freezing. But it also protects the lawn, so it will be sturdier when spring rolls around.
3. Blow out and close the sprinkler system.
No one wants his sprinkler running when it’s freezing outside. It can cause more ice and damage to the garden. Most importantly, it can bust the sprinkler and lead to costly repairs. Close your sprinkler and blow out the system to prepare for winter. There are a few YouTube videos that offer instructions or you can hire a professional.
4. Put away lawn furniture and other remnants of warmer months.
Lawn furniture gets rusty, dirty and downright dingy when left out to face the elements of winter. Store these items in a garage, shed or other storage area. Make sure your children’s toys, bikes, cars and other playthings are properly stored too. Anything that’s too big or heavy to be moved, such as tables and barbecue grills, should be covered with appropriate weatherproof gear.
5. Remove pumpkins, outdated decorations and damaged plants.
Many people place pumpkins on the lawn, and then leave them to rot because it can add nutrients to the soil. But the seeds remain too, so pumpkins should be discarded, unless you want an unexpected pumpkin patch. Similarly, any decorative cabbages should be removed or you’ll be faced with an awful stench by early spring. Any dead or diseased plants also need to be cleared out, along with any mulch that is old, moldy or could have been infected by the disease hitting the plant in its bed.
6. Spread thicker mulch for winter.
Homeowners often think they’re doing this to keep the ground warm from the freezing temperatures. But that’s not actually the case. The mulch protects all the activity still going on underground, even after the topsoil has frozen over. It helps keep a more constant temperature and allows for the right environment for the worker bees of winter to do their thing. This will help those bulbs you planted in October thrive by spring. You can also add compost and a layer of evergreen boughs or hay as mulch, according to the National Gardening Association. This aids in growth when the ground starts warming up again.
7. Protect plants and trees that need it.
Some of the plants and trees in your garden are more vulnerable than others. Of course, gardeners should tend to the unique needs of each. Some perennials will need to be cut back. Be aware that new plantings and trees require extra security as winter approaches. You may have to wrap tree trunks with guards to stop critters from munching on them. Some bushes and plants may need screens to prevent damage by winter wind. You might also have to carefully dig up bulbs of less hearty plants and flowers.
8. Take the gas out of your lawn mower’s tank.
The oil can remain in your lawn mower. But leaving gas in the tank can damage the engine. It’s important to protect the sanctity of the lawn mower, which will come in quite handy come March. So, take heed and make sure you prepare in advance.