How To Prepare Your Garden For Winter

Freezing temperatures in hard winters is a reality we sometimes ignore by assuming Mother Nature knows best how to cope with that. But delicate plants and young trees may come out of such winters with wounds that could put their very life in danger. To avoid this, here is how to prepare your garden for winter, in a series of advice coming via

Use thermometers and barometers to track the temperature and know when bad weather is approaching. Thermometers should be placed in an area without any direct sunlight for an accurate reading.

Protect young or delicate plants from wind by hammering a few stakes in the ground surrounding them. Then, wrap a burlap barrier around the stakes to create a barrier that should deflect harsh winds. With young trees, wrap the trunks with burlap or commercial tree wrapping to prevent wind damage. These wrappings can be removed after the trees are more mature, or in about a year.

The constant freezing and thawing of plants can be as harmful as cold temperatures. Use mulch to limit damage by spreading three inches of mulch on the ground surrounding plants to help maintain a constant temperature. Then, cover with netting, chicken wire, or tree branches to protect from wind.

If you know bad weather is around the corner and want to protect your small plants, cover them with a plastic bag, cardboard box, upside-down flowerpot, or even a plastic laundry basket to protect them. Whatever covering you choose, make sure to weigh it down with a stone or a brick. Or, drape a thick blanket or quilt over plants before nightfall to trap soil heat and protect plants from light frost.

Prevent damage to early-blooming trees by planting them on the north side of the house or on a north-facing slope. This will delay or lessen light exposure and provide safer, more gradual thawing. Plants that blossom early should also be obscured for direct morning sun, as a gradual thaw will minimize damage done by frost.

Vines, shrubs, and trees that are found near walls can be protected from cold temperatures with a frost shade. Mount a piece of wood at the top of a fence or wall and use it to hang a piece of canvas or tarp.

Run a sprinkler over delicate plants on cold nights. As the water freezes on the plants, it will give off heat and keep them warmer than surrounding air. This trick is often used to protect fruit trees to protect crops from unruly weather.

Though you may be tempted to sprinkle salt over walkways and driveways to prevent icy slips, remember that the runoff from spreading salt can damage plants. Instead, use wood ashes, sand, gravel, sawdust, or fertilizer to keep these areas safe.

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