Winter Garden Prep
Don't neglect your garden this fall. Preparing your garden for winter offers huge benefits. The soil is dry, warm and workable, saving you from the muddy mire in the spring. Plus, allowing nutrients to marinate in the soil through the winter will make a big difference in the success of next year’s garden. Prepping your garden in the fall will free up your time for other intensive projects in the spring. No need to touch the soil again until you're ready to plant.
How to Prepare Your Garden for Winter
Begin preparing your garden for winter about 6 weeks before the first hard freeze.
- Remove annuals and save the seeds to plant next year.
- Get rid of diseased plants. Burn – don’t compost – diseased plants.
- Pare perennial flowers after the first killing frost. Leave ornamental grasses and thick-stemmed plants.
- Start a compost pile with the dead plants and weeds. Don’t have room for a compost pile? Dig trenches in your garden to bury the compost, enriching the soil for next year (but always call the diggers hotline first!).
- Till the soil in the garden.
- Plant bulbs in the fall to jumpstart spring growth.
- Spread protective mulch over the garden.
- Clean up your garden gear before you store it for the winter!
How to Till a Garden
Tilling allows oxygen to reach the deeper layers of soil, adds nutrients into the soil and reduces pest issues. While tilling in the fall isn’t a must, it’s much easier than in the spring when the soil is wet.
Till several days after rain, so the soil is moist but not too wet. Remove rocks and sticks from the garden. Spread compost, fall leaves, manure or other organic matter over the garden. Till in parallel lines across the length of the garden. Then set the rototiller to the deepest setting and begin parallel lines across the width of the garden.
Since you aren’t planting until spring, leave any large clods of dirt at the surface, and they’ll erode over the winter.
How to Mulch a Garden
Protective mulch keeps topsoil from blowing away, reduces weeds and prevents root damage from extreme cold temps and freeze-thaw cycles. Mulch also reduces water evaporation, so the soil stay moist longer.
Mulching is a great way to recycle organic materials. Create your own mulch from grass clippings, fall leaves, straw, pine needles or compost. Use a wood chipper to make your own airy mulch.
Turn old mulch laying on the top of the soil. Then add 5 to 10 centimeters of new mulch, but leave a few inches around plant stems. Rake the mulch into an even layer. Make sure the mulch is less than 3 inches thick.
Tools and Equipment for This Project
- Tiller: let the tiller do all the work with an 8 horsepower engine, 3 speeds and reverse capabilities
- Cultivator: our cultivator tiller is perfect for tilling a smaller garden
- Trencher: create garden trenches for your compost, but first, call the Digger’s Hotline (800-242-8511)
- Brush Chipper: break down brush around the yard and recycle it by creating mulch