First, of course, remove any trash or litter that may have blown into your flower beds, then rake up all the leaves, the summer layer of mulch, and organic material — save it for the compost pile.
Once you have done this, the ground will be cleared for a thorough weeding. Yes, there will still be weeds and removing them now will reduce their recurrence in the spring.
Dig up any annual plants and shake off the soil from the roots. The soil around the roots has been conditioned throughout the summer and is the pefect consistency to be worked back in to the top soil. The plants (if healthy) can also go into the compost pile. OR, have you ever considered over-wintering your annuals? Over-wintering is the process of bringing annual plants indoors and repotting them until you replant them in the spring. You will need to find a space indoors that protects the plants from the harsh winter elements, but still allows them to get planty of light. Some varieties of annuals are better candidates for this than others, so look into your specific annuals if this is something you are interested in trying. Because the process is stressful to plants, you will have better success if you select only the healthiest of your plants. Be sure to inspect the plants for insects before bringing them into your home.
After that, turn your attention to the perennials. If they have overgrown their space, go ahead and cut them back. If they have grown too thick, go ahead and thin them out — then share with friends or neighbors! Trimming back the foliage of perennials can improve their health and eliminate shelter for pesky rodents. Some plants, however, such as roses, should not be pruned until spring, so check the recommendations for your perennial plants.
Roses require a little special attention in order to survive the Indiana winter successfully. Many think it’s the cold that damages plants, but in fact, it is the cycle of freezing and thawing repeatedly that is the most harmful. Therefore, the strategy is to actually keep the rose bush frozen throughout the winter until the weather is consistenly warmer.
The time to take action on your roses is after the first hard freeze that causes the bush to drop most of it’s leaves. In Indiana, this usually happens around late November or early December, but if it hasn’t happened by Thanksgiving, you can go ahead and perform the winterizing process. Clean up all th debris dropped from the bush (it may be diseased), then bind the canes of the taller roses to shore them up against the wind.
Mount 10 or 12 inches of good soil or compost around and over the base of each plant. Poor quality soil can doom the roses, so purchase material if needed. Clay soil will hold too much water around the plants roots. Once the protective mound freezes (usually around mid-December) cover the mound with evergreen branches, straw, or leaves. Building a chicken wire “cage” around the plant can make this easier and more effective. You can also purchase “rose cones” from garden supply stores for this purpose. Whatever method you use, it is important to make sure it can stand up to the elements of winter. If the material blows away, your plant will be left vulnerable to the freeze thaw cycle.
Begin checking the plants in early spring for new growth. As soon as you see new growth on the plants, remove the “winter coat.”
Once you are done doing the clean-up and pruning, it’s time to add manure, compost, and other soil amendments. After the first hard freeze, turn the soil again to work the nutrients in and to expose any residual weeds or any pests that have burrowed into the soil to avoid exposure. After you’ve let them freeze for a couple of nights. go ahead and add a thick layer (2 to 3 inches) of fresh mulch.
Don’t Forget Your Tools!
Carefully maintained tools work better and last longer. During the busy growing season, some of the routine maintenance may get overlooked, but don’t put your tools away for the winter without taking some steps to make sure they will be ready to use in the spring.
Clean them up. Make sure to remove all of the soil, organic material, and peticides from your tools. Failure to do so can cause damage over time. Remove any rust with a wire-bristle brush. Once they are clean and dry, apply a layer of oil (motor oil works well), with a buffing cloth. The oil will prevent oxidation and rust over the winter. If tools are dull or in poor condition, consider having them sharpened or serviced now so they will be ready to go in the spring. If the item is beyond repair, check the hardware and gardening stores for a replacement — you may score a great end-of-season deal!
Well Done! Now, Hibernate Until Spring.
While it may seem like everything is dead and quiet during the winter months, there is actually quite a bit going on below the surface — restoration, rejuvenation, and preparation for spring! By spending a little time on these autumn chores, you have done your part to allow your soil and plants to have a dormant season that is well-prepared for the spring.
Now — where is your shovel?
If you are a property manager of HOA officer who is responsible for the maintenance of property — lawn and landscape services, or snow roomoval — consider Landscape Solution to provide your service.