Winter is Coming – Get Your Yard Cold Weather Ready

With chillier temperatures, plant life is starting to become dormant, shielding itself from the colder temperatures to come—which means it’s also time to do a fall cleanup in your yard. Even though it might be tempting to cozy up on the couch, preparing your lawn and flower beds now will make for an easier, and prettier, spring.

Give your grass what it needs for spring

“The extra effort that you invest in putting your lawn to bed in the fall will result in healthier grass in the spring,” explains Ron McKenna of McKenna Lawn Care, “and that will require less attention and work by you.” 

More lawn tips from McKenna Lawn Care:

Aerate your yard. This will build a stronger root system, improve turf grass rooting and reduce soil compaction.

Apply a fall fertilizer to strengthen your lawn’s root system, which will provide it with the health it needs to withstand the rigors of winter weather.

Ensure that your irrigation system lines have been properly blown out of any water.

Cut your lawn to 2 to 2.5 inches, which is shorter than regular spring/summer length. This will make spring raking of dead thatch easier.

Ensure that all shrubs and bushes have been pruned (leave rosebushes to be pruned in the spring). Pruned shrubs and bushes will have a tidy appearance during the winter and will be ready for new growth in the spring.

Finally, rake or blow all leaves off your lawn and to the curb, or into bags if you don’t have curbside pickup.

How to Put Blooms to Bed and Prune

Perennials are relatively easy to tidy up. Tyler Briggs from Sheridan Nurseries on Southdown Road, suggests cutting them back to the ground by the end of October, leaving 2 to 3 inches.

“Wait to cut back your ornamental grasses and lavender until the spring, March or early April,” he says.

Briggs also advises pruning your shrubs by the end of October. More pruning tips?

“Identify any dead, damaged, or diseased branches, remove any suckers originating from the rootstock, and remove spent flowers from your hydrangeas to prevent breakage,” he says, “but don’t prune spring flowering shrubs and trees.”

Bulbs of promise

This is actually a great time of year to plant bulbs, because the ground is at a good temperature and the bulbs will go dormant.

Planting bulbs? Here are more tips from Sheridan Nurseries:

Bulbs need to be planted by early November, or before the
ground freezes.

Bulbs need to be planted between 4 to 6 inches in the ground.

Planting later in the season has the benefit of squirrels not digging up tulips—they should have stored enough food by that point.

Use blood and bone meal when planting.

Baby trees

Finally, if you’re planting new evergreens before the snow flies, be sure to wrap them securely so they can survive the harsh upcoming weather.

“New evergreens should be planted at least three weeks before the ground freezes,” advises Briggs. “Wrapping them with a mesh in November will  stop them from splitting and breaking under the weight of snow and ice over the winter months. Also, make sure they’re well watered before the ground freezes.”

Steward the earth and soil

We may like our streetscape to be exceptionally neat and tidy, but when you’re putting your garden to bed, also be aware of the creatures that call it home.

“Many birds, insects and animals rely on the hollowed-out stems and seed heads left behind in the fall,” says Mississauga Master Gardener Martha Kantorczyk.

“We suggest leaving some natural habitat behind for foraging birds and solitary bees to survive the winter, and then do your more thorough cleanup in April.”

Sleep well… see you in the spring!
by Kristy Elik

Local Links

Sheridan Nurseries

Mississauga Master

McKenna Lawn Care

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