You might have already let winter take over your painstakingly tended landscaping – but next year, you don’t have to surrender your yard to the snow and ice. When the next big arctic chill hits the Rockies, you’ll be prepared if you follow these simple tips.
Late fall: be proactive. Start thinking about putting your plants and flowers “to bed” in late fall. You’re most likely to save your plants and healthy soil if you get to them before the first big cold snap. Still, Colorado weather can be quite unpredictable – so if you were caught off guard by the first freeze, you can still do plenty to protect your plants.
Late fall/early winter: keep the cold out. There are several simple chores you need to complete in order to prepare your garden for the cold winter months.
- Remove fragile plants that aren’t going to make it through the winter months. Just be sure to pull them out all the way down to the root to avoid any blight. You can then easily use them for composting. If you have any nitrogen fixing greens or legumes in your garden, these can be very helpful to the garden’s overall health; leave those plants in the soil and cover them.
- Use compost to protect the soil and plants that are staying through the winter. You can add any of the healthy plants and flowers you pulled up and create a nice protective layer around the soil and the plants that are staying put. While your soil will initially lose some nutrition due to the rain and snow, it will be nutrient-dense thanks to the compost all winter long.
- Protect the garden with mulch for your smaller spaces. Mulching helps to form an insulating, protective blanket around your plants. You can use straw, wood strips or even saw dust to create your protective mulch barrier. For the long Colorado winters, it’s also safe to lay down a layer of mulch and then add an additional cover of plastic sheeting to create an extra barrier. If you decide to use a plastic cover, make sure that you anchor it properly.
Winter: salvage landscaping after a cold snap. If you are one of the many Coloradans who were caught off guard by the first big cold front of the year, resist the urge to prune. If you have frostbitten plants, the best thing you can do for them is to wait and see what is salvageable once new buds start to grow.
You can still take steps to protect the soil as best you can. A good freeze should also freeze the ground and your planting soil. So once the weather warms up a bit, you can still go out and try to mulch and cover any area that you think might still benefit from the protective layer.
If any of your tropical container plants were left out in the cold, take them inside as soon as possible. In order to avoid shocking the plants, don’t’ bring them in to a very warm room straight away. Bring the tropical container plants into the garage or a sunroom first. They will normally recover within a few days or a couple weeks at the latest. If container plants must be left outside, you can try grouping them together during the winter months to provide protection and warmth to each other.
Winter/early spring: think ahead. The majority of the plants in your garden are most likely native plants. These plants will be able to easily recover after a cold spell. If you have a large number of sensitive, tropical plants as part of your landscaping, the best thing you can do to protect them from Colorado’s harsh winter months is to be prepared. When the cooler fall weather starts moving in, take the time to put your garden to bed, even if it seems like it may be a bit early, and avoid getting burnt by the cold.
If you find your garden in need of some serious TLC come spring, call the experts at Timberline Landscaping – we’ll help you design a landscape that’s beautiful and hardy.