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Prep your garden for winter

By Peter Fabris

Your garden may look fab now, but don’t put the tools away after the first frost! Prepare your garden for winter to ensure a successful growing season next year.

Vegetable beds

Winterizing vegetable beds has practical benefits, including making your yard look tidier.

  • Remove all plant remnants to prevent future disease problems.
  • Don’t add any material that was infected with a fungus or damaged by insects to the compost pile so you don’t contaminate next year’s compost, warns Diane Lulek, a horticultural sales specialist at Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
  • Plant a winter cover crop or apply enriching mulch. “Winter rye helps with erosion and provides biomass that can be turned into the ground in late March,” Lulek explains.

Protect sensitive perennials

Certain plants need attention to weather a tough winter.

  • Check below your roofline for shrubs that may bear a snow load. You may need to tie some up or put a protective covering over them.
  • Apply a protective spray like Wilt-Pruf to broadleaf evergreens and buds on sensitive shrubs, such as hydrangeas, to prevent frost damage.
  • Mulch to protect against sudden, extreme temperature dips before plants have had a chance to fully harden. But wait until the ground freezes or is about to freeze so that rodents don’t view the protected plant as a convenient food source.


Use evergreens, dogwood boughs, or whatever you have that’s still alive to make container arrangements. “Save the dirt from your annual containers and stick the boughs in,” Lulek says. “They should last until the beginning of March.”