As temperatures begin to drop and we begin to feel that all too familiar chill in the air, it means it is time to put the yard and garden in order before old man winter arrives in full force. A little preparation for winter can help your plants survive the season and emerge healthy and full in the spring.
Cedar trees, Alberta Spruce, Azaleas, and Rhododendrons should be wrapped over the winter months for extra protection. Use burlap to protect the plants foliage which is susceptible to dehydration and winter burn. The wrap will reflect the sun and prevent moisture loss due to the wind and sun (especially a problem in south facing, windy areas). Covering trees will also help protect the trees from wildlife eating the foliage. Heavy snow loads can bend and break the branches of cedar trees, so wrapping them with burlap will help prevent this; you can also wrap the branches with string or rope to keep them intact. The best way to wrap trees in burlap is to create a triangle with stakes, and wrap around the stakes instead of directly on the foliage – this gives the trees some breathing room. Wrap trees once temperatures remain below freezing day and night and remove the wrapping in the spring when temperatures warm up.
Protect tree trunks from rodents by wrapping them with a mouse guard. Mouse guards are easy to use and are available at most garden centres. They are an expandable plastic strip that wraps itself around the trunk of the tree. Start at the base of the tree and wrap the first 1-1.5 meters of trunk.
Newly planted trees or large caliber trees should be staked to protect them from the winter winds. Use a heavy metal 1-1.5 meter stake and place it 10-15 cm distance away from the main stem. Pound it into the ground to a depth of 30-45 cm and then secure the tree to the stake using either rope or jute. Don’t use metal or plastic as this can cut into the tree causing damage.
Hardy roses can have half of their new growth trimmed back in the fall, after a killing frost. Next spring the precise pruning can be done. You can also add some extra mulch such as peat moss, bark, or disease free leaves to the base or crown of the rose to give it extra protection.
Clean up flowerbeds by removing all annuals and trim perennials back to 10-15 cm. Newly planted perennials or those that may need some extra protection can be covered with peat moss, or disease free leaves.
Moisture is an important factor for all plants going into winter. Make sure that the soil is moist before the frost sets into the ground on your perennials, trees, shrubs and bulbs. If the soil is dry, you may need to take out the garden hose or watering can to water those areas until the ground becomes frozen.
Protecting your plants from winter’s harsh conditions is an important step in the health and well being of your plants, and you will reap the rewards in the Spring!