6 steps to take now to prepare your yard and garden for the winter

Stock image | Photo courtesy of Utah State University Extension, St. George News

FEATURE — Fall is in the air, and the leaves are changing. It will soon be time to put the lawn and garden to bed for the year.

By investing time before winter takes over, you can ensure healthier and happier plants next spring. So, consider these tips:

  • After the fall harvest, remove spent plants from the garden. Add non-diseased plants to your compost pile, and throw away any that are diseased. If you do not have a compost pile, haul plants to the local green waste facility.
  • Do not leave spent plants in landscape beds. Remove annual flowers such as petunias and marigolds by the root after they are killed by hard frost. Cut perennials back to a few inches above the ground after foliage dies back. As with vegetables, compost spent materials or send them to the green waste facility unless they are diseased.
  • If the soil in your garden or landscape beds needs to be improved, as it often does, late fall is the best time to do it. Apply 2-3 inches of organic matter such as leaves or compost and till it into the soil. Doing this in the fall allows soil microorganisms many months to break down the compost in preparation for next year’s plantings. Another advantage of applying compost in the fall is that if it is too hot from excessive salts, the salts will generally leach out over the winter and early spring months.
  • Continue mowing the lawn until it stops growing. Leaving it extra shaggy in late fall encourages a disease complex called snow mold. Also be sure to rake all leaves and debris from the lawn as another preventative measure. For lawns that receive moderate to heavy traffic, apply a final application of fertilizer in early November. Grass roots absorb nitrogen and other nutrients in preparation for spring.
  • Remember that trees and shrubs have different fall requirements than annuals and perennials. Since they are going dormant in the fall, do not fertilize or heavily prune them this time of year. Both encourage new green growth and can seriously delay dormancy. If plants are not completely dormant by the time winter cold arrives, they may suffer severe damage.
  • Finally, fall is the time to plant bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and crocus. Shop early for the best selection. Bulbs can play an important part in the design of a well-planned landscape and can brighten early spring days. Of the bulbs, daffodils seem to be the most deer resistant.

Written by TAUN BEDDES, a horticulturist from the Utah State University Extension.

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4 Comments

  • sheepobserver October 6, 2018 at 7:29 am

    Yes, rake up all your leaves, rake up all your neighbor’s leaves, steal the bagged leaves out for garbage pickup (or politely ask permission is probably better), and dump them in your yard/garden. You don’t even need to till them in (although some will fly away if not kept in some how). The worms will come in and eat the leaves from the bottom up, leaving the best fertilizer (worm castings), and aerating the soil below with their tunnels. The leaf mold that grows on the moist leaves on the bottom is also gold for the garden.
    The forest fertilizes itself every fall by dropping its leaves, and leaving them right on the surface. Nature knows what it’s doing, let it do its thing.

  • Chris October 6, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    You are correct. Throwing away leaves is the worst waste of valuable biomass.

  • KR567 October 6, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    call it what you want. I have my leaves raked up and hauled off to the dump. I have no lawn my yard is total desert landscaping. saving water is more important to me than saving leaves

  • Mike P October 7, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    And remember, starting next year, you can do all these chores with that extra hour the church is allowing you to have now !

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