You know winter is upon you when you feel those first blasts of cold arctic air all the way from Canada. While it signals fall planting time for the gardeners in warmer climates, most gardeners aren’t so lucky. They have to prepare their gardens for the onslaught of the cold. Here are some fall activities to get your gardens ready. These may seem a bit obvious but then so are success tips and we read them! Besides we all need a good reminding once in a while!

Trees and Shrubs

  • A much smarter alternative to raking and dumping off all the fallen leaves would be to shred them using a mower and create a 1 to 2 inch thick sheet of chopped up leaves over your lawn. Other than the earthworms having something to munch on, the eventual breakdown of the leaves will add nutrients to the soil.
  • You could make some compost by collecting the excess leaves along with other organic matter such as spent plants and vegetables.
  • Sun-scald is the splitting of tree trunks because of the extreme change in temperature during winter. You can protect the young trees by using tree wrap or by painting the barks with white latex or any light color. Though it would be weird to see pink barks!
  • To protect any evergreen shrubs like the rhododendrons from the cold, drive four stakes into the ground around the plant and wrap burlap around it. Or you could apply an anti-transpiring spray.
  • Where snow tends to fall on your plants you could place wooden tepees over them.


  • To encourage good root growth you should continue to mow the lawn (2 to 3 inches).  
  • Also reseed the thin patches on your lawn.
  • As mentioned earlier, spread a layer of compost or crushed leaves to aid with building of root system.

Vegetable and Flower Gardens

  • Compost all remains of the plants except those with major insect infestation or disease.
  • Cut them perennials to the ground and as aforementioned spread a layer of compost around the plant.
  • To protect the tender perennials like lavender and rosemary, you could mulch with shredded bark or pot them to get them indoors.
  • To avoid maximum frosting, move all containers to a more conservative location.
  • Your hybrid roses can be protected by using rose cones or bark mulch over the crown of the plant.