How to Prep Your Garden for Winter

Here are some tips to protect your plants come snow season

Living in the colorful state of Colorado, we get to experience every season. And without a doubt, winter is coming, and it’s coming quickly. The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are slipping. To protect your family and pets, you wear warmer clothing; you stay indoors and drink hot cocoa. But your garden isn’t so lucky. The plants are left to endure the harsh elements. And even though it appears there isn’t much happening on the surface, below the soil there is a plethora of activity that requires year round nurturing. So how do you protect your plants?


Just because winter brings ice, cold and snow, it does not mean you can’t use it to your advantage. Snow can actually protect your plants. A good amount of snow cover can act as an insulator, similar to mulch. But it can damage and break plants if you have too much. Be sure to monitor the conditions and act accordingly.


Perennials need a lot of attention before the first snowfall. To start, clean up the area around these plants to get rid of debris. This will allow more air flow to the plants during the winter months. After the first frost, place a 6 inch layer of mulch around your garden. This will help keep rodents out while insulating the plant life. You can also use pine needles and chopped leaves if you do not have mulch available. Be sure to collect seeds of your favorite plants so you have a full stash to plant in the spring, and move the delicate plants indoors.


After planting your bulbs for next spring, be sure to preserve them all winter long. You can use evergreen boughs to keep the soil from shifting and cracking. This will also act as an insulator. If you’re concerned that your bulbs are too shallow, you can always move them indoors until it’s time for them to bloom.


Trees, shrubs and roses are hearty plants that are sturdier in colder weather in comparison to others. But it’s still important to care for them before winter arrives. To care for them properly, stop fertilizing them in the late summer and stop major pruning; this avoids the stimulation of new growth. Be sure to clean out the old mulch from under these plants and spread over a new layer. Once the first frost comes, it’s time to add more mulch! Even though these plants can withstand colder temperatures better than others, they can still can be vulnerable to breakage and freezing.


When we think of weeds, we think of spending hours during the spring and summer pulling them, killing them and looking high and low for those pesky plants. But, did you know, they start scheming during the winter months? There is a way to avoid them completely—by using leaf mold mulch. First, remove any existing weeds from your garden. Then, spread a thick layer of this special concoction over the area where weeds are most bothersome. This will suffocate the weeds, stopping them before they can start. Want to learn more on how to make your own leaf mold mulch?

What would you add to this list? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Samantha Arnold is a professional writer for Taravella's Hydro Turf, a Denver-based full-service landscape contractor. 

See also:
Strategic Tips for April Gardening
A Gardener's Garden
Tips for Enjoying Your Garden

Categories: Landscaping & Gardening