By Donna Adrian, Master Gardener
Winter damage to shrubs, trees and perennial can happen if they don’t get enough moisture to overwinter. It has been warm for a few days plus the summer drought, moisture loss to shall root evergreens can be vital to survival. A good deep watering will ensure that the majority of the roots have access to water. Get your roses ready for winter by cutting them back to about 36 inches. Mound mulch at least 12 inches deep around them, next spring you can cut back any dead wood and your roses will ready for another season.
If you still have favorite flowers seed heads, and want to save seeds for next year, storing them is an important factor. Store them in a cool dry place. Dry seeds on paper to absorb their moisture then store them in a paper envelope.
Remove and dispose of old vines and plants in the vegetable and flower gardens to reduce the chances of insect and disease carryover. Mulch is the gardener’s friend in the perennial garden. It prevents perennials from being heaved out of the soil from freezing and thawing temperatures and protects plants from drying out in harsh winter winds. Clean straw, shredded leaves and compost are good mulches. A blanket of snow also provides protection.
Fall is a great time to add organic material to your soil to make it more fertile and improve the soil’s texture. Dig in some compost, chopped leaves or commercially available material like peat moss or rotted manure.
Lawns don’t need much in the way of winter care, except for fall fertilizing and water.
Garden tools also appreciate a little extra care in the fall. A little maintenance now can prevent frustration and repairs, and extend the life of gardening tools and equipment. Remove dried on dirt or vegetation from tools using a wire brush. Sharpen the blades and oil moving parts. Wipe metal parts down with a penetrating oil such as WD-40 to prevent rust. Wooden handles can be varnished or wiped down with boiled linseed oil to help prevent handles from cracking.
Drain all the water out of hoses and store on hose supports, reels or coil loosely rather than hanging them on nails. Sags and kinks can weaken the hose wall and cause your hose to crack.
Thoroughly wash and rinse all sprayers used for insect, disease and weed control. Use a detergent and clear water rinse through the entire system – tank, plunger, hose and nozzle. Be sure the equipment is dry before storing it for the winter. Most pesticide manufactures recommend triple rinsing. Sprayers should be stored upside down when not in use.
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