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Putting your garden to bed for the winter

How to wind down while getting ready for the spring!

As the growing season comes to a close, many home gardeners are focused on harvesting and processing as much as they can. But the end of the long summer days is also a great time to start thinking ahead to the spring – and even planning your garden for next year!

Here are 8 easy tips to get your garden prepped for the cold season:

  1. Weeding

Even though it’s one of the more tedious tasks, weeding is an important part of maintaining your garden beds, as well as preparing them for winter.

Getting any unwanted guests out of your garden now will save you from dealing with a hostile takeover of weeds in the spring. Some gardeners also mulch their beds before the snow falls to help prevent weeds from taking root once things start to thaw.

2. Cutting back perennials

Generally, a good time to start cutting back your perennials is in the early to mid-fall or after the first light frost. Cutting plants down to the woody stems helps create space for new growth in the spring. Some gardeners like to leave perennials, like coneflowers, to do this naturally over the course of the winter, while also providing seeds for birds and other critters during the winter. If you do decide to cut them back, it’s recommended to cut to about between 3 and 6 inches above the ground.

3. Pulling out annuals and composting them As long as there’s no mold or mildew around the roots, your old annual plants can go straight into the compost once you pull them up. After they’ve decomposed, the compost can help feed your garden the next year!

4. Wrap any small trees or shrubs

Covering your shrubs, trees or rosebushes with burlap will protect them from damage caused by heavy snow, while still allowing for the air to circulate.

5. Divide annuals

Many annual plants go through growth spurts in the summer. This means fall is the perfect time to divide them up and replant them where you want them.

6. Plant bulbs for next year

Once you’ve cleared space in your garden by weeding and pulling out annuals, you can plant bulbs for the next season! This is a great time to plant things like tulips and daffodils, which hibernate under the snow until things start to warm up again.

7. Bring in any house plants

If you brought any houseplants outdoors for a little bit of summer sun, it’s time to find space for them inside your home again. Plants like hibiscus and some palm trees will thrive in Ottawa’s humid, summer climate but will definitely not survive the winter outdoors.

8. Rake up fallen leaves

Raking is a seasonal chore for many gardeners and yard-havers, but these leaves actually make a great addition to your compost pile, as they break down and return nutrients to the soil. You can also use fallen leaves as mulch to protect your garden beds during the winter – they can be very effective at suppressing weeds and will eventually decompose in the garden beds as well.

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