Winter is approaching, so it is time to get your lawn and garden landscape ready for the colder temperatures. The following tips can help you do just that, so your yard both looks its best and is ready to survive the upcoming harsh winter.
Tip #1: Don't Skip the Raking
Although the red and orange of fallen leaves looks attractive against green grass, it will become an eyesore in midwinter when both the leaves and the grass are brown. There is also more than just appearance at stake. Leaves can smother grass, which can lead to brown or moldy patches in spring. Wet leaves also pose a slipping hazard if you must walk across them. Finally, piles of leaves can play host to insect and disease organisms, providing them with a place to overwinter so they can easily attack plants the following spring. Rake up leaves from both the lawn and garden bed, and then compost or trash them.
Tip #2: Be Liberal With the Mulch
Mulch is like a miracle worker in the garden. It can help conserve water moisture and prevent weed growth. More importantly, it insulates the soil, protecting plant roots from both extreme heat and cold. This means applying a thick mulch layer around your shrubs and over sleeping perennial beds will keep the plants tucked in and warm all winter long. When using mulch around the base of woody perennials and shrubs, pull it back a bit so it doesn't rest against the actual plant.
You can also use mulch to keep weeds from growing in an annual bed in late winter and early spring, before you plant. Simply cover the bed with a sheet of plastic mulch, and then spread a layer of wood bark or straw over the plastic. When it's time to plant, cut a hole in the plastic for each new annual.
Tip #3: Give Everything a Haircut
This final landscaping tip applies primarily to your lawn and herbaceous plants. Mow the lawn a bit shorter than you usually do. Long grass is more likely to develop fungal issues when it is dormant in winter. Also, cut back herbaceous perennials that return via new growth each spring, such as chrysanthemums and echinacea. You can typically cut theses down to the ground as long as you don't cut into the fleshy crown where the roots and stems are attached. Dispose of all the dead material so it won't harbor pests.
As for trees and shrubs, check with a landscaper to see which can be trimmed back in fall and which require late winter and spring haircuts. Some trees, especially evergreens, may respond to trimming by sending out new growth, which will only become damaged once a freeze hits. These are usually best pruned in late winter or early spring to avoid this issue.