When it’s cold outside and there’s snow on the ground, you might think you don’t need to tend to your garden. However, gardening is a year-round art. There are lots of things you can do in the winter to make sure your garden will thrive the rest of the year. Here are our top five tips for caring for your garden in the winter:
Tip #1: Prune!
Believe it or not, winter is a great time for pruning. With no leaves, you can easily see branches on deciduous trees and shrubs to make proper cuts. Also, it is best to do hard or major pruning in winter, when plants are dormant, since you’re less likely to shock the plant.
New to pruning? Here are some quick tips:
- Use bypass pruners. While typically more expensive than anvil pruners, they offer a cleaner, more precise cut. Anvil pruners tend to crush as they cut.
- Make cuts no more than 1/2-inch above the branch collar on woody shrubs and just after a node, leaf, or bud on branches.
- Make clean cuts to keep out fungus and bacteria. If you leave too much of the branch you have cut, it could rot and spread to the rest of the plant.
You can also contact a local garden maintenance company to do the pruning for you. Do you live in Southeastern Pennsylvania? Contact us today for a free garden maintenance estimate.
Tip #2: Plan your design for next season
Gardening companies tend to have a lot of downtime in winter. Therefore, now is a great time to contact them to plan a new garden design. Scott is currently working with customers to learn about specific needs and wants in order to create a custom, one-of-a-kind, hand-drawn garden design.
Also, if you contact your garden designer now, they will likely be able to add you to their schedule earlier in the year. If you wait too long, you might not get your garden installed until fall, so you won’t see it in bloom – and fully enjoy it – until next year.
Tip #3: Start your seeds
If you’re planning on growing vegetables or flowers from seed this year, now is the time to start planning. The first thing you’ll need to do is gather your supplies and choose which seeds you’re going to plant. Can’t decide? Here’s some advice:
- Choose fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you like to eat and know how to cook.
- Don’t overdo it. If it’s your first year growing a garden, start small. You’ll get more knowledgeable and confident over time and each year you’ll be able to add a couple new varieties.
- Be sure to research your hardiness zone and pick plants that will do well where you live.
In addition to seeds, you’ll need cell trays or small peat pots, seed starting soil, and a sunny window or grow light.
Not sure when to start your seeds? The general rule is to plant seeds inside 6-8 weeks before the last frost. This will vary depending on where you live. The Farmer’s Almanac has a great resource for estimating the last frost that you can find here.
Tip #4: Build, buy, or repair garden structures
Do you have raised beds in your garden? A trellis for plants to climb? Now is the time to make sure that these garden structures are ready for the next growing season. Make repairs, if needed. If you don’t have raised beds, or you need additional or new beds, decide if you will buy or build them. If you want wooden beds, we suggest using cedar, even though it is more expensive than pine, since it will last much longer.
We have also built raised beds out of wood look-alike blocks made out of concrete. These are so sturdy that you’ll never need to worry about replacing them.
You can find lots of plans online for building your own raised beds. If you’re interested in having Scott build raised garden beds for you this year, contact us today.
Tip #5: Feed the birds
Why feed birds in winter? The top reason is to enjoy their company. You can learn about local species in your area, enjoy the songs they sing, and teach children about them. Winter is a great time to photograph birds, too, since there are less leaves in trees to hide them.
Another reason to feed birds in winter is to keep them interested in your property. Birds are very beneficial to your garden when it’s in bloom. They eat harmful insects and even help with weed control. By feeding them in the winter, they will stay close and will continue to come back to your yard when you need them most.
In winter, it can be very difficult for birds to find food. Offering a continual food source is a great way to help your local wildlife survive the winter.
Feeding the birds doesn’t have to be too much of a hassle or too expensive. Even having one feeder in your yard that you fill regularly will help.
Learn more about year-round gardening from Scott at the Philly Home & Garden Show. He will be presenting on stage each day about the most important gardening tips for each season. We hope to see you there!