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Garden Preparations for the Deep Freeze

Winter Fern w/pine cones

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As winter rolls in, there are things to be done to prepare your outdoor space and plants for the colder months.

Garden Preparations for the Deep Freeze

Trees & Shrubs

Proper maintenance for trees and shrubs with regard to the winter months happens entirely in the fall. One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll want to avoid over-fertilizing plants in the fall, as it’s wasteful and needlessly stimulates new growth. It’s not a bad idea to make sure your trees and shrubs receive ample water to prepare for winter, but watering should occur in the morning on warmer days to ensure that the water has time to seep into the ground instead of freezing overnight.

Lawns & Turf

Best practices for lawns and turf, in preparation for the winter, include fertilization throughout the fall, as long as the grass is still green. It’s fine to keep watering, aerating, and fertilizing your turf until it starts to turn brown, at which point you can leave it for the season.

Flowers & Perennials

If you happen to have flowers in beds or planters that will survive for more than one growing season, the name of the game for winter preparation is going to be “mulch.” Protective mulching in the fall doesn’t keep plants from getting too cold—it’s quite the opposite. Mulching keeps roots cold throughout the winter, ensuring that they stay at a relatively uniform temperature so they don’t continually fluctuate between freezing and thawing. Too much temperature variation can be harmful to plants that maintain roots through the winter to return in the spring. Mulching is a good idea for more than just temperature-sensitive perennials, as it helps trap moisture under the soil during the dry winter months.

A Little Light Maintenance

Another thing that you shouldn’t to forget, however obvious, is that you need to shut off any irrigation systems you may have automated before the temperature drops. To avoid pipes from cracking, turn off the main shut-off valve to the irrigation supply line. If you’ve got an automatic system, you can simply set it to “rain mode”—but be sure to do this as soon as temperatures drop below freezing.

Finally, you’ll want to clean up fallen leaves, pine needles, dead roots, and any other wilting foliage that could attract bugs, snow mold, or fungus. For more info on optimizing your outdoor space for winter, or to consult a landscape specialist on your preparations, get in touch with Botanical Concepts Chicago.

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