For those that have not finished their fall chores, do not wait much longer as the ground is starting to freeze.
If spring bulbs are still waiting to be planted, make the time and do it immediately.
Choose a sunny spot where the ground has not started to freeze. Placing mulch on top of the bulbs will keep the ground warmer; give them extra time to put down roots. Well rooted bulbs tend to produce better flowers in the spring.
Snow is nature’s mulch. In the past few years, snowcover has been spotty resulting in the loss of a number of plants. Placing mulch such as dry leaves, peatmoss, or clean straw on beds produces similar results as snow. Cover the bed with four to six inches (10 – 15 cm) of mulch to keep ground a constant temperature through out the winter.
Tender shrubs and their flower buds, can also be protected from the extreme cold and temperature fluxations by covering the plant with mulch.
A box or pen built round the plant will keep the mulch in place. Try to make the mulch look attractive as it will be in place for five months.
Water in all new plantings to ensure they will have enough moisture going into dormancy.
New plants have not had time to grow enough roots to ensure an adequate supply of moisture.
The same should be done with evergreens in sunny exposed areas.
In the spring, the sun will reflect off the snow warming the plants and causing them to transpire. If too much moisture is lost, the needles will turn brown.
This can be avoided by shielding the plant from the sun or supplying extra water in the spring.
Many people wrap their evergreens in burlap for winter to avoid brown needles. It works well but take care to make it look neat and tidy as it will be in the garden for five months. The burlap also deflects the snow that can break or pull branches down.
Wrapping cedars and upright junipers in a net also keeps the branches from bending and breaking under the weight of a heavy snow.
Monitor perennial and shrub beds, water them if the soil below the surface is dry.
If deer or moose are a problem, wrap the tree or shrub in a mesh.
Place the mesh around the outer branches blocking the animal’s access to the tree. Keep the mesh in place until the deer have enough new growth to browse elsewhere.
Chicken wire or plastic snow fence work well. Wire or black plastic blend into the landscape.
Trim grass around new plantings as well as around fruit bearing plants.
Removing shelter makes the plants less attractive to rodents.
If there is still a rodent problem, encircle the stems with a small wire mesh.
Drain all sprinkler systems and hoses. Emptying them of moisture will ensure that water will not freeze, expand and crack during the cold months.
Take time to enjoy the fall colours; they are spectacular this year.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist and educator living in Rocky Mountain House. You can contact her at email@example.com