A Checklist for Fall
You’ve been working hard ever since the snow melted. You spent the spring planting and the summer tending. All so you could enjoy the beauty and interest of vibrant flower beds in the outdoor areas around your home. Now winter is approaching. What can you do to make sure all of that hard work doesn’t just slip away?
There are many things that you can do in the fall to make sure that as much of your hard work from this year carries over to the next as possible. When you follow this checklist, you’ll not only hang on to as much as possible but also set yourself up for an easier spring next year.
Don’t let the cold temperatures, rain, and snow determine what your landscaping looks like in the spring. Get outdoors and enjoy the last of the good weather before winter arrives. While you’re out there, follow these steps to be sure that when spring arrives your garden areas are ready and waiting.
4 Keys to Winterizing Flower Beds
It’s an unfortunate fact of life when you live in an area that has four seasons. The plants that make the outdoors beautiful during the spring, summer, and fall will die or go dormant over the winter months. Once they are established, trees, shrubs, and bushes tend to do well over winter and they may even add a touch of color to help spice things up.
Flower gardens, on the other hand, tend to have a rough time making it through the winter months. Whether your preference is annuals, perennials, or a balanced blend of the two—there are some steps that you need to take in the fall to set yourself up for a successful spring once winter has passed.
You might think that the only downside of beautiful ornamental annuals in your flower beds is that they die-off and force you to re-plant every spring. But if you don’t remove dead and dying annuals from your flower beds in the fall, they have the potential to introduce a whole host of other headaches.
Many annuals are full of seed heads on their blossoms. If you allow them to remain in your flower beds overwinter, those seed heads will leave you with volunteer sprouts in the spring that are eager to become a season-long weed problem.
In addition to seed heads, dead annuals will become decaying plant matter that provides a perfect home for insects and diseases that will jump at the chance to set up shop in your freshly planted flowers in the spring.
Care for Perennials
You might think that perennials are the way to go because you plant them once and then you can just sit back and enjoy them. But all plants are living things and when they’re left to their own devices they’ll grow and spread out with little consideration for the effect on the aesthetics of your landscaping. Beyond that, most perennials have parts of their bodies that die-off during the winter.
To make sure that your garden is rearing and ready to go in the spring you should make a point of doing some housekeeping on your perennials in the fall.
Cut back any foliage or stems as they die so that you’re ready for a fresh start next year. Dig out, divide, and shape any spots where perennials have overgrown the spot that you’ve allotted them in your garden. Think of it as a haircut for your landscaping.
Remove the Weeds
You might be tempted to leave the tedious business of pulling weeds until spring—but why? You’re already out there in your flower beds, pulling dying annuals and primping the perennials. Weeds don’t die off over the winter months. If you leave them until spring, they’ll be waiting to come back even stronger.
One of the biggest reasons to pull weeds in the fall is that they will drain valuable resources from the soil if they’re left where they are until spring. Another good reason to get rid of all of the weeds has to do with the final step in our flower bed winterization checklist—mulching. Mulch helps prevent weeds but that only works if you remove them before you put the mulch down.
You might wonder whether mulch in the fall is worth the effort. The simple answer is YES!
One thing that mulch does well is to prevent wind and water erosion. Whether you live in a warmer climate where wind and rain are the hallmarks of the winter season or live in a colder region that experiences snowpack in the winter followed by a melt and runoff in the spring, mulch is what your flower beds need to weather the winter.
Another thing that mulch does well is imparting nutrients to the soil beneath it. A fresh coat of mulch in the fall will leave you with beds that are brimming with good stuff in the spring. That will make everything easier and better for the perennials as they revive and any annuals you’ve had your heart set on all winter long.
Finally, mulch will control weeds. If you remove all of the weeds from your beds then you’re in good shape. If you pull all of your annuals before they can spread volunteers, you’re in better shape. But even then, you have to worry about weeds and wildflowers releasing their seed heads to the wind. If those wild seeds land on mulch instead of soil, they’ll never gain a foothold in your beds.
Birch’s Lawn Care Has More Tips for Winterizing Flower Beds in Kennewick, WA
If you follow our advice and go through each of the steps on our checklist, your flower beds will be in good shape come next spring. But there’s always more that you can do. If you’re an overachiever and want more tips on fall management, winter interest, and spring planting—give us a call or stop by and see us.
The landscaping experts at Birch’s Lawn Care have been helping the Tri Cities, WA residents beautify their outdoor areas for 6 years. Let us know what we can do to help you!