By Victoria Fuller
In the Southern States it isn’t every year that we have to worry about sub-zero temperatures or Winter Weather advisories, but this year it seems that we could all use a little advice on how to care for our outdoor spaces when the ice and snows come a-blowing!
These tips will (hopefully) help you put your best winter gardening foot forward and give you a better chance at garden-based success when the frosts finally go back to whence they came *shakes fists at icicles*.
Improve Your Soil
Winter may seem like an unusual time of year to focus on improving the quality and composition of your soil, but it’s actually the perfect time to be adding to your composting bins! Over the Winter there are plenty of food-heavy holidays and events where you can accumulate some fantastic food scraps to boost your compost (here’s looking at your Super Bowl!). Some excellent options to add to your compost over the Winter months are eggshells, coffee grounds, and vegetable peels (as well as most other organic matter!). If you are adding to an outdoor compost pile, make sure to maintain a diameter of at least 3 feet to ensure that the center of your compost heap maintains optimal temperature!
Add Protection to your Shrubs & Trees
Using fleece, burlap, or even bubble wrap can be a great option when protecting your trees and shrubs from bitter frosts and snows, especially if you live in an area with more tropical plants such as Palms! All you have to do is take the material and gently wrap it around the roots/stump of your shrubs to improve their chances of surviving Polar vortexes and other weather anomalies! It is important to insulate the roots of your plants as a frozen root system would be incapable of absorbing nutrients and water from the soil in the future, and this could lead to dehydration and malnutrition in the plant.
Jazz Things Up!
It may seem an unusual time of year to consider “Sprucing Up” your outdoor space, but there are still plenty of flowering plants, shrubs, and vegetables that will happily be cultivated at this time of year. We would recommend doing some research on your region specifically and then making some botanical choices according to what is most likely to thrive! Some worldwide Winter favorites that are worth considering across North America are Boxwoods, Camellias, Clematis, and Pansies (provided you don’t get too much snow where you are!).
Maintain Your “Hard Surfaces”
This isn’t the most exciting or botanical category, but it is still an important one! Ensuring that your pathways, decks, patios, and other “hard” surfaces are appropriately salted and maintained throughout the Winter months will not only stop slips and falls, it will also help improve your “curb appeal” and potentially stop damage from occurring when ice thaws and refreezes in cracks!
Grow Winter Plants in Raised Garden Beds
Opting to garden throughout the Winter in a Cedar Planters raised garden bed or planter box (like our ones featured here!) is a fantastic idea as the insulation of the Western Red Cedar helps to protect your plants, the elevated design helps to prevent ground frosts and pests, and the design makes checking in on your plants as easy as pie! Cedar Planters raised garden beds are also rot-resistant and incredibly resilient against the elements so they are a fantastic option year-round!
Consider Water Sources
If you have a hose or water feature it is essential to store them for Winter to prevent irreparable damage from occurring. As a general rule, you will want to ensure that the device is completely empty and dry, then store it indoors where no freezing can occur. This may seem like a bit of a nuisance but this 10 minute endeavor will save you from having to replace your entire watering system in the Spring!
Clean Your Garden Tools
It is important to clean your garden tools year-round, but even if you start by just doing it in the Winter then that’s better than nothing! Cleaning your garden tools will help to prevent rust from forming, will prevent sap build-up, can help remove potentially disease-ridden soil, and stop the edges of your tools from becoming blunt and needing replacing. If by chance you do end up having to replace some of your tools, we have some awesome options available to you here!
Protect Plants in Containers
If you have plants or flowers growing in containers then it could be worth investing in some winter covers (we have winter covers specifically designed for our raised garden beds and planter boxes available here) but alternatively using bubble wrap or burlap can be a simple method for preventing weeds from developing and can provide a barrier against frosts and Winter damage.
In conclusion, the key to success in the garden is protection. Although there are some beautiful and rewarding plants that you can grow at this time of year, we would recommend focusing your time and energy on looking after your existing garden and setting yourself up for success in the future!