Monday, December 18, 2006

Easy First Steps to Winterizing Your Garden

Now is the time to get your garden ready for next spring. If you live in a warmer climate, then you still have time to plant a few bulbs for next spring, but you need to act fast. Tulips and daffodils are probably the most popular bulbs and are fairly easy to care for. To see whether or not you are too late, you should go out with a shovel and try to dig into the ground. If you can dig fairly easily, then get thee to a garden store and pick out some bulbs! These bulbs are annuals, which means they will bloom for one season and then be gone. You should keep that in mind when you are considering their price.

Your next step will be to make sure that your yard is raked. Now, some people just allow their leaves to sit in the yard all winter. If you only have a couple of trees, that may be fine. The leaves will decompose where they are. If you have tons of trees, however, then you could be in for some serious problems if you leave them all winter. Dead leaves that build up are a great breeding ground for bugs. They also can contribute to diseases in your lawn. If you happen to be very busy and do not get to the leaves before the snow begins, then you should be prepared now to get lawn fertilizer next spring to bring back your grass.

Your third task will be to check out the plants you had this year. If you had annuals that are now dead, then you should go ahead and get them up. You need to pull up the whole root system so that you can use that ground for something else next year. Remove any perennials (flowers that come up year after year) that are not surviving in your yard and clear away any dead brush from trees. Now also it the time to clipper or prune any bushes that you have. Pruning some bushes, such as azaleas, may mean that they will not bloom next year. That is okay if you are planning to keep the bushes for years to come. Go the year without the blooms and then keep up on the pruning! After a year, they should be full and healthy again.

Do not forget about your yard equipment when you are winterizing your garden. Weed eaters, trimmers, lawn mowers, and other gardening tools do not do well with the winter weather. The best place to put the motorized equipment is inside. If you do not have a garage or other place to put them, purchase a large tarp and some bungee cords. Cover them well so that they will not be exposed to the precipitation and cold of the winter. Patio furniture also should be taken in or put under tarps to survive the winter. The fabric on most patio chairs will not make it through the winter. It will get brittle and crack, so take precautions now.

For those of you who do not have a compost bin already, consider building one now. It takes at least a year for a compost bin to be usable as fertilizer, so you will not be able to use it next year. Still you will be getting started on a healthier yard. Get small wiring (such as chicken wire) and a few metal poles. Stake the poles in the ground, wrap the wire around it, and you have a basic compost bin. You can put any of your yard clippings (though you may want to chop up limbs first) as well as vegetable scraps, eggs shells, and other garbage from your kitchen in the compost bin. Be sure that you cover it for the winter but come by to turn it with a pitchfork every month or so.

These basics steps will help you get your garden ready for next spring. The key is to make sure that you take care of everything now so that you can begin next year fresh. You will not need to start out doing clean-up, but you can start the spring with the projects you want to do.

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