It’s October, Autumn, the onset of winter; time to make the last preparations in the yard before the snow falls.
Clean up the yard. Store all the children’s toys. Gather, clean and store the hand tools; rakes, shovels trowels etc. Before putting the tools away clean them. Leaving caked on dirt can corrode the metal.
Take in all machinery, clean it and store it for winter.
If it wasn’t running properly fix it now before the spring rush.
Hoses should be drained, rolled up and placed out of the way.. A bit of water in the hose will not hurt the hose but it makes it much heavier to carry and hang. Ensure all the sprinklers work. Throw out the ones that are broken.
Blow out all sprinkler and water systems or the pipes will freeze and split during cold weather.
Drain all outside taps that are not made to withstand freezing temperatures.
In small ponds, remove the plants. Water lilies will overwinter if they are placed in a large sealed, black garbage bag and kept in a cool area. Check every few months to insure the roots are still moist.
Tender water plants can be kept inside.
The floaters will survive in water in a sunny location while the marginals can be allowed to dry out.
In a large pond the plants can be left as is.
Water lily leaves will sink to the bottom and come up again in the spring. Cutting back marginal plants is not recommended as water will get inside the stem and flow into the roots causing rot.
Removing weeds from beds in the fall is a must, especially ones that spread though underground rhizomes.
Plants that are not removed can double their size by spring.
Dig up tender roots.
Allow the roots to dry enough to remove all excess soil and store for the winter.
What to do with planters in the fall depends on the composition of the planter and what is planted in it.
If the plants are tender and can be overwintered, take the whole planter inside.
Plants that go dormant need to be stored in a cool area where they will not freeze solid.
Tropicals, and succulents can be placed in a sunny window after they have been checked for insects.
Geraniums and Fuchsia will become dormant if placed in a cool area with some sunlight. Slowly decrease the amount of water they receive until they are watered about once a month.
Other pots can be emptied and stored under shelter.
Remove all annuals from the beds and loosen the soil with a fork.
The soil will smooth out during the winter with the freeze and thaw cycle.
A tough surface will allow moisture to enter and discourage insects from overwintering.
Cutting back or leaving perennials is the individual gardener’s decision.
Cutting everything off at the ground level insures less work in the spring.
Leaving all or some plants intact can relieve the tedium of the winter landscape.
As for the health of the plants, plant tops do offer some winter protection. On the other hand, they also offer shelter and food for rodents.
Deer and moose can be a huge problem summer or winter as they like to browse of trees and shrubs. Shrubs recover as they will from a poor pruning job.
Trees will become broken and misshapen.
Wrapping the outer edges of the tree main part of the tree with chicken wire or snow fencing limits the amount that animals can eat.
It also does not allow the animal to take a big enough hold on the branch to tear it from tear it from the trunk.
Time spent getting everything outside ready for fall is preferable to doing a made scramble to day it snows.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at www.igardencanada.com or firstname.lastname@example.org