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Winter Prep Tips for Your Garden

Winter is coming, whether you’re ready or not, and your garden needs attention. Follow this step-by-step guide to protecting your plants, and ensure your garden is good to go for spring.

1. Cut Perennials

Cut back tall perennials before the first frost. Chopping down to a few inches above the soil seems brutal, but it does no harm and allows for spring’s resurgence.Clear your lawn of any garden tools, children’s toys and tree leaves that can smother your lawn in the fall and block nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

2. Drain the Hose

Drain the hose and bring it in for winter. Wipe down with a rag, so there’s no mud or moisture on it. Store it flat, letting it coil naturally, someplace dry and dark.

3. Renew Garden Beds

Renew the organic matter in garden beds before the ground freezes. Well-rotted, homemade compost is perfect, or buy bagged. Dig and mix everything to a depth of 6 inches or so.Early fall is a good time to seed a lawn that appears to be in need of some repair. Over-seeding an established lawn fills in bare spots and thickens your grass

4. Mulch it Up

Spread a few inches of mulch (such as shredded autumn leaves or salt-marsh hay) over your flower beds after the ground freezes. This protects plant root systems from soil-temperature fluctuations and frost heaving.

5. Seal the Compost

Close the compost pile for the winter. Its activity has been slowing for a while, and adding kitchen scraps to it now only leads to a pile of frozen garbage. Give it one last stir, and then replace the lid or cover it with a tarp.

6. Protect Your Evergreens

Shield your evergreens, particularly marginally hardy ones or ones with columnar forms that are growing in windy or exposed locations. Plywood tents are fine if the wood is not flimsy and you can secure them. Otherwise, a cage or burlap should do the trick.

7. Empty Window Boxes

Empty window boxes now. Discard the soil mix, as well as the dead plants. Scrub out the interior with a brush, and wipe down the entire thing, inside and out.If your lawn has low spots where water collects, then you may want to take the time to level the ground and re-seed.  Make sure to rake to loosen soil, add a lawn soil, then evenly distribute seed.

8. Relocate Houseplants

Since light is low this time of year, check that your houseplants are getting enough. They may need grooming or moving to a better, sunnier window. But don’t overdo water or plant food-for most plants, winter is a time of slower growth.

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