Making Smarter Landscaping Choices

Five Winterization Tips For Your Landscaping Beds

With winter arriving, you have one last landscaping task to do before taking the season off. The following five tips will ensure your landscaping looks good through the winter and that it is ready for spring.

1. Clean Out the Annuals

Don't leave the old annual flowers from summer languishing in the beds after frost kills them off. Not only does it look bad, but the debris can also harbor pests and diseases, which can return to plague your landscaping next year. Clear out the old annuals by pulling them out from the roots and tilling the soil so it is loose and ready to replant come spring.

2. Prune Back Perennials

Your perennial plants will return next year, but they will be much healthier and more productive if you winterize them now. The old plant needs to be cut back once the leaves begin to die back. For most perennials, this means leaving a few inches of the stem in place to act as a mulch that protects the crown. If you have perennials that spread by root bulbs or rhizomes, now is the time to dig them up and divide them if you haven't done this task already.

3. Test the Soil

Perform a soil test to determine nutrient levels in your landscaping beds ahead of the first snowfall or the ground freezing. With the exception of nitrogen, it makes sense to apply fertilizers in winter, especially in perennial beds. This way the nutrients are immediately available as soon as the first growth resumes in early spring. Nitrogen washes out of the soil quickly, though, so it should only be added when plants are actively growing.

4. Clear Out Debris

Debris refers to all the plant material that can be left in the yard once everything goes dormant in fall. Dead plant material, piles of fallen leaves, and twigs or branches all qualify as debris. Debris can also refer to other items, like tools that aren't put away or garbage that blows in. Leaving the debris in the yard provides nesting spots for pests and safe harbors for disease organisms. Debris can also suffocate the lawn or compress the soil in beds, making it more difficult to grow things come springs. Rake up and dispose of or compost all the debris before winter snow arrives.

5. Provide Plenty of Mulch

Mulch is the key for a healthy and attractive winter landscaping bed. Mulch protects perennial plants by stabilizing soil temperature around the dormant roots and preventing the soil from experiencing frost heave. In empty annual beds, mulch helps prevent weeds from moving in and it looks more attractive than bare soil.

Contact a landscaping contractor for more information.


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