Your Yard and Garden
With winter just around the corner, now is the time to get
your garden ready for spring.
In addition to raking the leaves and cleaning up the
garden beds, this is when you need to plant tulips,
daffodils and other spring bulbs. This is also the time to
protect your lawn and plants from the chilly nap they will
be taking over the winter. Some fertilizing and soil
preparation will also save you time and extra work come
Cleaning up your garden not only makes it look tidier, it
promotes healthy soil and thriving plants in spring.
Rake fallen leaves from the lawn - these can smother grass
as they get wet down and mat down, encouraging disease and
pest problems in spring.
Sprinkle a bit of fertilizer over some of the leaves and
till these into the soil to enrich it come spring.
Keep your lawn short as winter approaches to ensure it
doesn't mat down.
Remove and dispose of all plant debris that has been
diseased or attacked by pets - this will discourage
overwintering of insect eggs and plant disease organisms.
Toss only plant debris that is disease- and pest-free into
If you haven't done so in the at least five years, have
your soil tested for pH and fertilizer needs. The best
time to add sulphur or lime to the soil to adjust its pH
Feed your lawn
Fertilizing your lawn in late fall promotes healthy root
growth and builds food reserves. Although top growth has
stopped, roots will keep growing at temperatures above 0
Protect your perennials
Perennials can be damaged by severe cold and freeze/thaw
cycles. Ones that you have recently planted or that are
marginally hardy in your area need special care. It is
usually a good idea to mulch all perennials. You may want
to wait until spring to cut them back since the dead
foliage helps trap snow, protecting the plants over the
In late fall, cover perennials with a loose mulch of hay,
straw or evergreen boughs. Leaves are not recommended
because they become matted when wet and won't trap air to
properly insulate the soil. Remove mulch gradually in
spring as the weather warms up.
Save your shrubs
Some plants need more than root protection over the
winter, while others thrive on neglect. You'll know which
ones need more pampering by their appearance in spring.
For example, foliage on some evergreens such as yew and
hemlock is prone to browning or bleaching from winter sun
and wind burns. Some sprays are available to coat
sensitive foliage and prevent winter bum. The following
tips also help:
Thoroughly water the soil before the ground freezes -
evergreens lose moisture through their foliage all winter.
Use burlap or similar material to form an open-top barrier
around sensitive shrubs; this will protect them while
letting air and light through.
Prop evergreen boughs against or over shrubs to protect
them from wind and sun and to catch more snow.
Pamper the roses
Some popular hybrid roses aren't hardy in cold climates
and need help to survive cold winters. Mounding and
mulching will prevent damage caused by wind and extreme
cold. Here are some more tips:
Prune dead or diseased canes.
Before the soil freezes, mound soil, mulch or compost in
an eight-inch or higher layer around the base of each rose
Once the ground has frozen, cut back long canes to about
18 inches and pull off any remaining leaves.
Try enclosing each plant with a wire mesh filled with
straw, finely chopped leaves, compost and any other loose,
light insulating mulch - this will protect each bus from
Gradually remove the enclosure, mulch and soil at the base
of each plant when the ground begins to thaw in spring.
Plant spring bulbs early
Tulip, daffodil and other
spring bulbs should be planted early in the fall to give
their roots a chance to develop. Mix some bonemeal around
their bases to give root growth a boost.
Look around your entrance, walkway, driveway and other
outdoor areas for empty spaces where colour is needed or
would be welcome from an indoor view. Plant bulbs in these
areas and watch your home come alive in spring.
Plant bulbs as soon as possible after buying.
Bulbs are planted pointed side up, three times as deep as
they are high.
For best effect, group or cluster the bulbs in various
areas - group in uneven numbers of three to 15.
Bring some of your garden
As the cold, grey days of winter set in, you can still
enjoy some of the colour and pleasure of your garden by
bringing a piece of it indoors. Annuals such as geraniums
and begonias and many herbs can be placed in pots and
brought indoors. Be sure to take the following precautions
before doing so:
Remove any dead or yellow
Examine the plants carefully for any pests that might
infest your indoor plants.
Wash the outdoor plants down with soap and water to give
them a good rinse. This will get rid of dust along with
spiders and other insects.
Introduce the plants to their new indoor environment
gradually - bring them in for several hours a day to begin
If you must move the plants indoors fast because of frost,
provide a consistent source of light and place the pots on
a dish of gravel mixed with water to provide steady