The places that you spend your time can have a major impact on your health and well-being, both physically and mentally.
It’s no wonder that so many of us take the time to maintain a beautiful lawn and garden. The environment on our property supports us in countless ways and helps to add meaning to our lives.
Taking care of the green parts of your property, though, isn’t something to just be concerned about when the weather is warm. To make sure your garden and lawn are healthy for next year, it’s important to do some work as the weather turns cold, especially here in Ontario.
Are you wondering how to prep your yard for the fall and winter as well as your garden? Let’s take a look at what you need to know.
1. Preparing Soil For Winter
When harvest season is over and it’s time to put your vegetable garden to bed for the winter, there are a number of things you can do to prepare for the coming spring. By improving the soil in your beds before the winter, you can have a more productive and healthier garden in the following year.
Preparing Soil for Winter in a Vegetable Garden
When you’re removing plants from your garden at the end of the year, feel free to be lazy about it. This is because when you leave some of the root system in the soil, it can help to feed beneficial microbes that produce humus. Humus can help your plants get the nutrients they need as well as help keep soil aerated and moist. The only reason you’ll want to be sure to remove the entirety of a plant’s root system is if the plant is diseased. If you have diseased roots, it is important to remove it and not let it sit in the soil throughout the winter months as this can affect your soil come spring.
What Should I Add to My Garden Soil in the Fall?
Before adding anything to your soil, consider performing a pH test to determine the pH of your soil. This will help you determine if your soil could do with acidifying materials like elemental sulfur or from pH-raising materials like lime.
Before winter hits, you can add a three to four-inch layer of compost over your garden. After you’ve spread this layer, gently work it into the soil with a broad fork or digging fork. It’s best to do this when there is still some warmth in the soil, as it can help create a positive environment for beneficial microbes and soil-dwelling creatures.
You can also add some manure to your garden before the winter. If you apply it much earlier like in the spring, it has to be composted first. If you apply it in the fall, before the dormant winter, you can simply apply fresh manure to your garden. Apply a one-inch layer of manure, which you can sprinkle with blood meal if you so choose.
If you’d rather avoid using manure, you can apply fertilizer instead. Fertilizers like rock phosphate, greensand, bonemeal, kelp meal, or blood meal can release nutrients slowly over several months.
Now you can cover your whole garden bed with straw and leaves or a tarp. If you have fall leaves that you chopped up with your mower, these will work well.
Planting cover crops in your garden beds is also another good option. Plants like red wheat, clover, annual rye, and alfalfa work well as cover crops. As they grow, they will remove excess water and pull up nutrients from the subsoil. Then, when you turn them under in the spring, the organic matter and nitrogen will be returned to the soil.
If you choose to plant cover crops, you’ll need to make sure that you sow the seeds while the soil still has enough warmth to support germination.
Need some help prepping your yard for the fall and winter? Look no further. At Van Beek’s, our team can help. Give us a call today for all of your landscaping needs!
2. Preparing Your Lawn For Fall & Winter
As summer turns to fall and winter is knocking on the door, it’s also time to prepare your lawn for the long Canadian winter.
It is important that your lawn is “put to bed” in the winter in the same height you kept it at during the summer. A height of around 2.5 inches is best for winter lawn protection, as taller grass helps to make sure that the roots are deeper. If you keep your lawn too short, it is much more susceptible to winter damage.
The next step is to prepare the soil by raking your lawn to remove any leaves; a mulching lawnmower can also be used. If required, use a dethatching rake and aerate your lawn during this time.
When choosing grass seed, it is important to take into account your location and the specifics of your property. You can choose to select a variety that can withstand foot traffic or one that is shade-tolerant. Once you have chosen your grass seed, spread it on your lawn.
Despite the harsh winters in Canada, grass seed can survive frost. However, that doesn’t mean you should wait until there is a danger of frost to spread it. It’s best to spread grass seed when it has time to grow before the frost comes.
Using a specific formulated grass food designed for winter care can help your lawn during the cold months.
Lawn Fertilizer Schedule
Maintaining a lawn fertilizer schedule is important for the health of your lawn. In the fall, you will want to add nutrients to help recover from summer damage.
Are you frantically googling questions like: “winterize lawn fertilizer when to apply”? The best time to apply fall fertilizer in Ontario is in late fall when the roots are still active, but the turf has stopped growing above the soil.
Wondering what number of fertilizer to use in the fall? The best formula to use during this time is 13-25-12. It’s best to avoid fertilizing your lawn too late. If you wait until the frost, it can result in blade damage, root damage, and chemical burns.
3. Preparing Your Garden
As you prepare your garden for winter, it is important to remember that soil is not the only thing you need to consider. Preparing your garden properly can ensure that you have a great harvest the following year.
Fall Garden Prep
As summer turns to fall, you should start getting your garden beds ready for the next year. Let’s take a look at how you can care for your vegetable and flower gardens during this transition.
End of Season Vegetable Garden Care
At the end of the season, it’s necessary to remove plant material from your vegetable garden. You can break up the material or shred it into smaller pieces before adding it to your compost pile. Make sure you don’t add any diseased plants to your compost.
As mentioned above, you should also work on building your soil, add compost or mulch, and consider planting a cover crop.
Fall Flower Garden Cleanup
Cleaning up your fall/winter flower beds doesn’t have to take much time at all. For most perennial flowers, you usually don’t have to cut back old growth until new growth emerges in the early spring. However, plants like lilies, bearded iris, and peonies should be cut back to 3 to 5 inches to avoid issues.
Winter Garden Prep
The air is getting crisp and the leaves are no longer on the trees. Winter is on the horizon, and it’s time to protect your garden from the elements.
How to Prepare Your Vegetable Garden For Winter
If you’ve followed our steps above, your garden should be in a good position to withstand the winter. Now it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to plant next year!
What to Do With Raised Garden Beds in Winter
You can treat a raised garden bed exactly like you would any other garden plot as winter approaches. You may want to add season extenders so that you can begin your spring season sooner.
Covering Gardens With Plastic in The Winter
You can cover your garden with a plastic tarp or with mulch before the winter starts. Either way, it’s a good idea to protect your soil from the harsh winter conditions.
How Do You Prepare Perennials For Winter?
Some perennials in your winter border garden that have decorative seed heads and strong stems can be left standing to make your winter garden look more interesting. Perennials like Russian sage and lavender should also be left alone, as their new growth will come from the previous year’s woody stems.
4. Winterizing Your Landscaping
Snow cover, cold temperatures, and drying winds can cause problems for your landscaping if you don’t protect them properly. One of the best things you can do to protect your landscaping in the fall and winter is to design it with the winter in mind. Make sure you leave enough space near your driveway where snow can be ploughed without harming your design.
If you have a water system, consider having a landscaper blow out your irrigation system as a part of fall landscaping upkeep.
Prep Your Yard For Winter: Looking For Professional Help?
Putting in the time to prep your yard for winter as well as your garden can make your life easier next spring. On top of that, it can help ensure that your lawn and your garden are as healthy as possible.