BY SOREN ELSAY
The days of tank tops and bare feet in the back yard have come to an end. However, as experienced gardeners know, garden work is a year-round process. While the spring and summer are where the excitement happens, what you do during the fall and winter plays just as crucial a role in your garden’s fortunes.
The conditions may be less than ideal for being outside, but make sure you find time to properly put your garden into hibernation mode by following these tips.
1. Plant bulbs
The best way to make sure springtime starts off with a bang is to plant bulbs in the fall. Aim for planting them from the middle of October until the end of November to see them emerge in full bloom in the spring. Make sure they are planted four to eight inches below the surface and most types, such as the ever-popular daffodils, should be planted in groups of five or more per hole.
Unfortunately, bulbs are a favourite treat of the local wildlife. Try deterring them by coating your bulbs in baby powder just before they get put in the ground.
Keep your bulbs dry at all costs while storing them. Wet bulbs tend to go bad very quickly. If a bulb is black or mushy, don’t put it in the ground and expect it to grow.
2. Cut down perennials
Perennials, as opposed to the one-season-and-done “annuals,” are plants that return every year. But that does not mean you let them wither and die though the winter. Cut down them down to the ground once they turn brown or begin to look unpleasant. They will be back.
3. Prune hydrangeas (if you have them)
Although brilliant when they flower throughout the summer, hydrangea bushes tend to get overgrown and hard to manage very quickly. To keep them under control, do not be afraid to cut them back quite drastically once they finish flowering. It’s not unheard of to prune it down to two-thirds or even one-half of its initial size. Always make your cut just above a fresh bud or at “crotch” (where a branch meets another branch).
4. Leave the leaves
Understandably most people like the tidy look of not having brown leaves scattered across their lawn; however, I would advise leaving or even putting a layer of leaves on top of your garden beds once the plants are done for the season. The leaves will provide both insulation against the cold for the bulbs still in the ground as well as an influx of nutrients as the leaves decompose over time.
Soren Elsay has worked as a professional landscaper. He is an aspiring writer with a bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia.
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