It may seem far away now, but spring will be here before long, and with it will come the mad rush to plant, till, and prune. Take advantage of the quiet time in winter to prepare your garden for all the excitement in spring.
Devoid of lush, leafy growth, the sparse winter garden reveals more of the garden’s overall structure than any other time of the year. Winter offers the perfect time to walk around and get ideas on how to improve your garden’s design. Maybe you notice that one garden bed could be wider, or that you have enough room to plant a new ornamental tree. Weather permitting, you may even get the chance to implement some of your design ideas before spring, such as adding a new garden statue, some ornamental containers or perhaps new outdoor furniture.
Order Seeds, Bulbs and Plants
Nothing brightens a dull, cold winter day better than browsing a garden catalog for new plants to try in the garden this year. “Window shop” from the comfort of your home as you browse this year’s crop of mail order garden catalogs and your favorite garden websites for exciting new varieties of shrubs, trees, perennials and vegetables. While you’re at it, make sure to pick out some summer-blooming bulbs like lilies and gladiolus – they perform best when planted in early spring.
A sunny winter day is the perfect time to clear out weedy areas, fix broken trellises and build new raised garden beds. If the ground isn’t frozen, you can even dig up and move shrubs or perennials to a better location, taking advantage of their dormant state to reduce the impact of shock. If you’d like, you can also cut back ornamental grasses and perennials now, or you can wait until early spring in order to give local wildlife shelter through the end of winter.
Before spring arrives, clean and sharpen your garden tools to improve their performance and extend their life. This is especially important for pruning shears, which can tear plant branches when dull and spread disease when not cleaned properly.
Winter is an ideal time to find and destroy hibernating garden pests. Slugs, snails, aphid colonies and weevil larvae can be stopped in their tracks much more easily now before leafy cover offers them food and shelter. You can find colonies of pests hiding in old brush piles, stacks of wood, and in garden debris around your flower beds. Cleaning up these areas will not only make your garden nice and tidy before spring, it will also save you a lot of trouble later on by stopping a spring infestation before it can even begin.
It may be hard to feel inspired to garden in winter, but you’ll find that preparing now for spring will improve your garden through the entire growing season.