Putting the garden to bed each fall not only marks the end of the growing season but also presents a wonderful opportunity to get a head start on the next season. How you prepare your garden for winter depends on your region, but here are some general tips:
Schedule the work over several weekends so it doesn't become overwhelming.
Start with a clean up: Cut down and remove the past season's annuals and vegetables, and add them to the compost pile. Cut back faded or dead foliage on perennials after the first hard frost, and compost. Never compost diseased or pest-infested plants.
Rake up and compost fallen leaves on the lawn, and pull weeds before mowing for the last time.
Before the ground freezes, water evergreens (especially broad-leaved ones) deeply, and spray them with antidesiccants if they are planted in exposed, windy areas.
Cover containers that will remain outdoors to prevent them from filling with water, freezing, and cracking. Clean terra-cotta pots and concrete containers, and store them in the garage or potting shed to protect them from the elements.
After the ground freezes, mulch perennials, evergreens, and newly planted trees; if necessary, protect them with burlap screens to minimize heaving, desiccation, scalding from intense sun, and other winter damage.
Once the garden has been put to bed, bring in garden hoses, turn off taps, and take some time to tune-up tools before storing them for the season.
More from Martha Stewart:
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Here's another project to tackle before the cold front rolls in.