Preparing your flower beds for winter

Most gardeners know that gardening is not just for spring or summer. Gardening can be done all year. You also need to take care of your flower beds for the winter season. Preparing your flower beds for winter is not only good for the soil but it also makes it easier for your gardening when spring comes around.

Once the temperatures start dropping to a freezing temperature and your flowers are gone or no longer blooming you will want to start preparing your flower beds for the winter. Your flower beds will most likely contain both perennial and annual flowers so you may need to use some extra caution while preparing these beds for winter.

If your flower bed has only annual flowers or flowers you plant every year you should do the following:
1. Remove any dead plants. Place them in a compost pile. If you don't have a compost pile then start one if you desire.
2. Turn the soil. The easiest way is with a pitchfork. This will eliminate garden pests by exposing them to the freezing temperatures. Stab and lift the soil then flip it over all through the flower bed.
3. When the above step is finished you will want to loosen the subsoil with a broad fork. Stab the fork into the ground and gently rock it back and forth.

4. You will now want to add compost. Make many holes in the soil for earthworms to pull the compost deep into the subsoil.
5. Spread the compost over the annual flower bed in a four to six inch layer. You can also add a shredded leave layer of about six inches followed by a thin layer of straw.
6. Sprinkle the annual flower bed with fertilizer and give a good soak to the flower bed.

If your flower beds have perennials, flowers that grow back every year without replanting, or the flower beds have both annuals and perennials then you will need to follow these steps:
1. Wait until the perennial top growth has completely died back before preparing these flower beds.
2. When the top growth has died you will want to cut the perennials back almost to ground level.
3. Compost the cuttings that are disease infested. Again, if you do not have a compost pile then you should start one if you like.
4. Gently rake the existing mulch that you have around the perennials away from those perennials for now.
5. Add a thick layer of compost around the perennials.
6. Rake the mulch back in place along with adding a new layer of mulch around the perennial.

You don't always have to cut back all your perennials just the ones that require cutting for proper growth. Some gardeners trim everything back but it is not a necessity. You should however move shrubs or divide any of your perennials in the fall. The fall is the best time to do this and some of the perennials could bloom in the spring.

The best thing you can do for preparing your flower beds for winter would be to mulch those flower beds. This requires no digging. The easiest way to make mulch is to use your raked fall leaves and shred them as little as you can for the best decomposition. Dump these leaves throughout your flower beds. This will add some insulation to your flower beds and if your leaves are small enough they will decompose and add nutrients to your soil. You don't need to cover the leaves but if you do then good burlap will do the trick. The burlap will allow moisture and air to get to the soil.

Preparing your flower beds for winter is an easy job. The best thing you can do is to get rid of the old or diseased plants. Add some mulch to give some insulation and you are done. When spring comes around you will have a clean and hopefully nutrient rich area to plant new flowers.

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