As long as the ground hasn’t frozen, you can still winterize your garden. From early autumn in most northernly locations to almost winter in the deep south, you can take steps now to prepare your garden for winter’s worst.
Plant spring bulbs now. Tulips and daffodils can be planted before the ground freezes, both of which are among the most common early spring flowers. Snowdrop is one of the first flowers you see in the spring, with the first of its pale white flower petals emerging through a light layer of snow in February or March. Also consider grape hyacinth, crocus, narcissus, scilla and frittilary, flowers that need plenty of sunlight and good drainage advises HGTV.
Remove dead flowers and plants. Annuals should be removed and disposed of — roots and all — and placed in a compost heap if healthy, but thrown out if diseased. You can still trim most bushes well before the first killing frosts of the season settle in.
Lay down some compost. Protect your plants by sheet composting, by layering garden beds with coffee grounds, grass clippings or composted manure and topping it with a one-inch layer of leaves. Alternate these layers until you reach bed height, keeping your protective pile in place throughout the winter. Rake out the excess when warmer weather returns.
Protect plants from winter burn and die-back. Some plants such as rhododendrons and hollies must have stored moisture to get through the winter. You can help fight drying conditions by regular watering, but not overwatering, your evergreens throughout the fall and until the ground freezes. Using anti-desiccant and anti-transpirant sprays may have no effect in retaining moisture, however, notes the University of Minnesota Extension service.
Dig up vulnerable annuals and herbs. Not every annual can handle a winter onslaught nor can most herbs. Instead of losing these, dig them up and place them in a pot and bring them inside for the winter. Come spring, you can place them back outside again.
Put away tools and hoses. Go through your garden tools and throw out what is broken and clean off what is left. Disconnect and drain hoses as leaving these untended can cause them to expand and break during a cold snap.
Throughout the winter you can continue to work on your compost pile, depositing coffee grounds and food. Come spring, you’ll be well on your way to having fresh soil available to replenish your garden, mixing finished compost with garden soil to create a nourishing bed for your plants.