Savvy gardeners understand the importance of performing several critical tasks during the fall and winter months to maintain garden health and growth once spring returns. It should come as good news to gardening enthusiasts that there is no need to sacrifice the pleasure gardening brings just because the weather is turning cool. There can be much enjoyment from continuing to maintain and work a garden from fall through winter, and the payoff is a stronger, healthier garden as the days grow longer again.
Fall begins the perfect season to cut back perennial growth in preparation for winter. This reduces the chance of perennial extremities becoming damaged due to cold or extreme weather, and reduces the workload that waits when spring arrives. Fall is also a good time to assess which plantings have shown the most success, and remove those that have struggled or simply failed to strive in preparation for new spring selections.
Fall and Winter Growth
Many plants will continue to grow and thrive during the colder months, and those that are less responsive to colder temperatures can often be started indoors in advance of spring plantings. Bulbs and perennials will do quite well when planted in the fall, and will grow slowly throughout the winter. Bulbs can also be started indoors and transplanted when spring arrives.
Compost and Fertilizer
After pruning and removal is complete, the starter materials are in place to build a nourishing compost pile for future seasons. The compost pile location is up to each gardener but it is recommended to choose a spot where it will be out of the way of foot traffic. For the first season, use of mulch can nourish the soil, or use the extra leaves and branches as a thick protective layer over the garden bed.