How to Get the Lawn and Garden Ready for Winter

Trista - October 22, 2019
Credit: Pixabay

Harvest and Regenerate Compost

You may be discouraged from having anything to do with this pile; you want to forget about it when the temperature starts to drop. Proper maintenance is required to keep your compost pile healthy. Here are a few tips you can follow to make sure you are getting the most out of your compost. First things first: whatever material you added during the summer months is almost surely done and ready to go. Using this material on your lawn and garden can help add needed nutrients and enrichment to help with growth come spring.

Another tip you could follow is to take this time to clean out your compost pile to make room for new material. Add all of your old compost to your lawn and garden (as noted above) and make space for a new pile to form. To insulate those hard-working microbes with the decomposition process, build your collection using kitchen scraps, autumn leaves, sawdust, and straw for optimal results.

Credit: Pixabay

Winterizing Roses

Due to their delicate nature, roses require special care before they are ready for winter. Here are a few tips that may help keep thriving roses all year round. One tip you could try is to remove all foliage from around the base of the plant(s) to keep diseases from overwintering and coming back with a vengeance come springtime. Although keeping foliage in your garden bed may be beneficial, for roses specifically, it can be tremendously harmful.

Another good rule of thumb is to prune any branches that are dead, dying, or infected with pests. It may also be beneficial to cut any extra-long branches to prevent them from whipping around in the harsh winter winds. Both foliage and branches should go in the trash, not the compost. You could also spray your rose bushes with a fungicide; this will also help stop the spread of any diseases. Some harmful pests and diseases can survive the winter; taking these extra steps will ensure your plants’ survival until spring.

Credit: Pixabay

Mow Your Lawn and Store Summer Bulbs

It may seem like something obvious to do, but mowing your lawn is a crucial step to keep your yard healthy. It is best to continue to mow your lawn until the grass stops growing. Not only will your yard look nicer, but shorter grass will make raking leaves that much easier.

Have a plant that you really want to grow next year? Save the bulbs! It is essential to pull them out of the ground before the first frost hits. You will want to keep them in a safe place for a few days while they dry out; after they dry, make sure you pull off any leftover soil. You can store them in peat moss or sawdust in a cool, damp place until it is time for planting.

Credit: Pixabay

Aerate the Turf

Another typical spring activity that is also beneficial in fall, aerating your soil will help keep that lawn healthy and happy in winter. Why is aeration so important?

For a few reasons, actually. The process involves making holes evenly throughout the yard. This allows for water, air, and nutrients to more readily enter the ground and strengthen the roots of the grass. The stronger the roots, the deeper they will grow, making for a hardy lawn. The main reason you aerate the yard, however, is to help the soil not become too compact. Compaction leads to weak growth, which is the opposite of what we want.

Credit: Pixabay

Collect Leaves

This tip ties into the one above. After you aerate (and mow!) your lawn, it is time to pick up all of those pesky leaves that have found their way into your yard. Proper aeration cannot occur if all of the holes you made in the ground are covered with leaves.

Remember, you can use theses leaves as a natural insulation in your flower beds and can also add them to your compost pile.

Credit: Pixabay

Fertilize and Water Plants

To ensure a healthy lawn through winter, make sure that you find time in the fall to fertilize your lawn. Fertilization helps to strengthen the turf, which in turn creates a durable, healthy lawn capable of withstanding the winter weather.

It may seem counterintuitive to continue watering plants when the temperature starts to drop, and your plants go dormant. The opposite is true; if you have an unusually dry fall, do not hesitate to continue watering your plants. To ensure a hardy crop, continue watering until the ground freezes.

Credit: Pixabay

Wrap Trees and Protect Plants

Frost will crack tree trunks, which is why it is essential to protect your trees during the winter months. You only need to worry about thin-barked trees. What causes this cracking to occur? Sap within the trunks will freeze at night when the temperature drops, expanding and causing the bark to crack. The solution comes in the form of paper tree wrap; place one inch below soil level and continue up to the lowest branches, adhering with duct tape. Set a note to remember to remove the paper tree wrap in spring so that new growth may take place.

If you live in an area overrun with curious critters, this tip is catered to you. To protect your plants from pests throughout the winter, consider placing wire-mesh screening around any vulnerable foliage.

Credit: Pixabay

Clean Tools

During the spring and summer, gardening takes up so much time that tools often become neglected. Fall and winter are the perfect seasons for tending to your devices in place of your garden.

The first step is to get all of your tools clean by washing them with hot water and soap to remove any contaminated soil or debris. If your utensils have become rusted, make sure you remove that from your tools as well; you can use either sandpaper or a wire brush. Next, you’ll want to sharpen your tools using equipment such as a mill file or a whetstone. Last step: lather everything up with machine oil; this helps ensure your devices will last through the winter and are now ready for spring!

Credit: Pixabay

Clean Out Pots

Water features are not the only aspect of a garden that can freeze and crack during the winter. If you leave the soil in a pot outside when temperatures start to drop, the containers can break and spill out everything contained within the pot.

Be sure to remove dirt from any outdoor pots before the first frost. If you want to clean out your parts, you may do so using one part bleach to nine parts water.

Credit: Pixabay

Drain Hoses

Hoses are another component of garden and lawn care that needs to be prepared for winter. Make sure to drain all water hoses and store them inside to keep them from cracking.

Allow the tubes to dry before storing completely. Store watering cans in the same manner — empty out of all water, and store in a place where no water can be collected within the container.

Credit: Pixabay

Power Equipment

These tools also need some attention before they can be stored for the winter. The most crucial step here is to empty the gasoline from every device in your arsenal that is filled with it. Any equipment that takes oil should be due for a change; fall is the perfect time to perform such maintenance.

If you happen to have anything that runs on an oil-gas mixture, be sure to drain and dispose of the contents properly before winter hits. You will also want to check air filters and spark plugs and replace anything that is old and worn. Make sure to clean off any grass or debris from any equipment before storage. Also, make sure to sharpen any dull blades before putting things away.

Credit: Pixabay

Root Crops

Now that we have discussed some aspects of lawn and garden winterizing care let us focus now on specific garden plants and what you can do with them once winter comes. Root crops consist of plants such as parsnips, carrots, rutabagas, turnips, and beets.

These hardy vegetables can withstand frost, so leaving them in the ground once winter hits is not a big deal. Don’t let the ground freeze, though; near-freezing temperatures are the perfect conditions for the maturation of some crops, especially parsnips.

Credit: Pixabay

Leafy Greens and Other Plants

This includes Swiss chard, kale, and cabbage. All three of them can withstand light frost, but outside leaves may become tough or damaged. Lettuce, on the other hand, cannot withstand frost at all.

The list of other plants consists of pumpkins, tomatoes, beans, zucchini, and peas. These plants should be pulled and disposed of as soon as the frost rolls in. If you had a healthy crop, place the dead plants in your new compost pile! If you had an infestation of any sort, make sure you either burn your plants or throw them in the garbage, but not the compost pile. Clean out your garden of any support structures that were used for your plants.

Credit: Pixabay

Oregano, Sage, and Basil

Although oregano can withstand the cold temperatures, it is crucial to protect your plants with straw mulch in winter. Sage is unique in that it does not need any special treatment for winter.

Basil is not as hardy as the other herbs mentioned so far. Basil needs to be dug up and brought indoors if it wants to survive through the winter.

Credit: Pixabay

Rosemary and Chives

Care for rosemary depends on where you reside. If you live in Zones 6 or 7, your rosemary can stay outdoors but will need to be sheltered in some way from the elements. However, if you live in Zones 5 and colder, your plants will need to be taken inside for shelter.

Although hardy, chives need more complicated care than previously mentioned. First, you’ll want to dig up a clump of the plant and pot it. Leave it be and let the foliage die down and freeze for a few weeks. If you continue to water your plants, you will be harvesting chives all winter long.

Credit: Pixabay

Thyme and Parsley

Thyme is another herb that does not take any preparation for winter; it naturally goes dormant in the fall and will come back to life in the spring.

Parsley can withstand a light frost. Some care is needed if you live in certain Zones; if you reside in Zones 5 or colder, you will need to cover your parsley on cold nights. Because of its long taproot, it does not transplant well.

Credit: Pixabay


Fall is the season for pruning summer-bearing raspberries, and that is all the preparation these plants need for the winter months. Make sure to leave six of the most vigorous brown canes for every one foot of patch.

During this time, pruning of fall-bearing raspberries is also needed; however, you will want to cut these guys to the ground after they have borne their fruit. In the springtime, new canes will come up and bear fresh fruit.

Credit: Pixabay

Blackberries, Blueberries, and Strawberries

Fall is the optimal time to plant blackberries. You will want to protect the canes, though; this is accomplished by mounding up the soil around the rods. If you do not do this, frost can rip your plants up out of the ground.

Blueberries can survive the winter months as well, but it is essential to provide your plants with a thin layer of mulch around the base. With strawberries, make sure to add a thin layer of straw mulch to the bottom to protect them throughout the colder seasons.

Credit: Pixabay


Make sure to keep these plants watered throughout the fall. It prepares the plants for the harsh conditions brought on by winter. Once the ground has frozen, it is time to prune and prep; cut perennials back about three inches and cover with a layer of mulch covered by leaves or straw.

If you plan on replanting a bed in the spring, prepare the bed now before the cold weather hits. Cover the area you plan on cultivating with either mulch or plastic to discourage weed growth. If pachysandra grows in your garden, cover the base with a thick layer of pine needles before the snow starts to fall.

Dahlias, gladioli, and cannas need special attention: once their leaves have blackened from frost, they need to be moved. Dig them up and place them inside on the newspaper for a few days. After they are completely dry, pack them in shredded paper, styrofoam peanuts, or dry peat moss in a place that is dark and humid until spring returns. Chrysanthemums should also be replanted; once their flowers fade, take them to a sheltered spot. Be sure to water them all through winter and cover with a layer of straw to protect them from the elements.

Credit: Pixabay


These plants go dormant in the dry winter months; before they go dormant, it is vital to keep them well watered. If you have a cool place in your house to store geraniums, it is possible to overwinter them. All that is needed is a place to rest and a little water!

Once spring rolls around, bring the geranium plants back into a warm place and water them more heavily than was needed during the winter. When buds appear, be sure to re-pot and prune the crap out of them. The best material to place geraniums in to overwinter them is plastic or glazed pots.

Credit: Pixabay


These plants need special care before the weather conditions turn harsh. Their roots cannot freeze; if they do, they will not survive the winter. More massive evergreens in bigger pots may be fine if the winter is mild, but small plants in small pots will run into trouble. The best way to keep them safe during the winter is to place all small evergreens against a wall and cover the base with shredded leaves or mulch. Continue to water these plants throughout the winter months.