Winter’s cold months are fast approaching! In order to ensure a healthy garden for next year, walk through your garden with this checklist to identify what needs to be done.

Lawns: Fertilizing now, if you haven’t already, will both restore the lawn after a hard summer and encourage a healthy green-up in the spring. Schedule a final mow at a height of about 2 inches, and remove leaves, twigs, and debris from your lawn to reduce the chance of snow mold and other diseases.

Transplants and New Plantings: It isn’t too late for transplanting and planting bulbs, shrubs and trees (except for Redbud, Magnolia and Birch, which prefer spring planting). Roots actively regenerate during the autumn so they will have over two months to get well established before winter’s stress. Fall plantings should be well watered and mulched.

Flower Beds: The frost has probably finished off most of what’s left. Now’s the time to pull out your annuals, roots and all. Cut perennials back to about 4 inches above the ground (if they are no longer green). Remove dead plant debris from flower and vegetable beds. A clean bed reduces the chance of disease problems in the spring.

Please note: Leave perennials with winter interest. Ornamental grasses and taller perennials such as sedum, aster, black-eyed susan, coneflower and joe pye weed can be left standing, or tied up with twine, as they provide winter food for birds and places for insects to overwinter. Insects are a crucial part of the wildlife food web.

Trees: Fall is a great time for tree trimming. Prune out dead wood and have branches removed if they are likely to damage your roof. Protect young trees against bark-eating rodents by surrounding the trunk with a wire cage or wrapping the trunk with burlap. Make a point of watering young trees well during the fall to prevent winter desiccation.

Mulch: Mulch stabilizes the soil temperature to prevent too much alternative freezing and thawing of the soil, which is often quite harmful. Following a clean-up, spread a layer of leaf compost around perennial beds and spread 2 inches of shredded bark mulch around shrubs and trees. Avoid piling mulch on the base of trunks.

Fallen, dry leaves can be made into an economical mulch by shredding them with a mulching lawnmower and spreading onto plant beds.

Storage: Wrap your outdoor furniture with weatherproof covers and store outdoor cushions in a cool, dry place. Collect clay pots and terra cotta objects (such as some birdbaths). They should be emptied and stored in a protected place to avoid breakage due to severe freezing. Put away hoses before they freeze and turn off the water to your outside faucets.

Those with an irrigation system and/or a water feature in their garden must make arrangements to have them shut down for the winter, if they haven’t already.

Plan ahead! If you’re interested in spring or summer installations in 2018, now is great time to contact us. The spring-fall rush has slowed, and we can dedicate more time to your design. Call us at 847- 475-7917 to discuss your future projects.

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