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Winterizing Gardens in Fall

Putting Perennials to Bed, Plus Preparing Snowblowers

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What does Japanese knotweed look like? Picture.

What does Japanese knotweed look like? This photo shows an example of how the new shoots can look.

David Beaulieu

On Page 1 we considered such tasks as winterizing lawns, trees and shrubs. Below are some of the miscellaneous tasks that still to be done for winterizing gardens and more. Of course, you may have specific features on your landscape that will require additional attention in the autumn. For instance, owners of in-ground swimming pools or elaborate water gardens will have to engage in winterizing tasks specific to these features. Always follow manufacturers' recommendations.

  • Perennial garden beds ideally should be cleaned up and mulched as part of your work in fall gardens. Remove old stalks and leaves -- you'll have to do so in the spring anyways, so you might as well be a step ahead. But if, for whatever reason, you are not able to mulch your perennial beds in the fall, then do not clean away the old stalks and leaves either -- they will serve as a makeshift mulch, affording some small degree of protection to the roots of your perennials. In other words, the cleaning and the mulching go together: either do both or neither one. But it is best to do both, in order to keep your garden disease-free and well insulated.

  • Winterizing your compost bin. You have worked hard all spring, summer and fall building up your compost pile and mixing it to achieve optimal decomposition. Don't let any of your work go to waste! You don't want precious nutrients eroding away or being swept off by wintery gusts. If your compost bin has no cover, then cover it with a tarp in the fall. To insulate it from winter freezing so as to hasten its usability in spring, apply a layer of raked leaves on top and all around the perimeter (bagging the leaves if necessary to hold them in place).

  • Bring in the garden hose, too, and go down into the basement to turn off its water source in the fall. You don't want those pipes bursting when the temperatures fall into the teens, do you?

  • But don't think that you must bring everything inside just because fall begins announcing the winter doldrums. Some landscaping concerns are ongoing, and those don't take a timeout for winter. For instance, if you're a landscaper "blessed" with having to battle Japanese knotweed, you can't afford to let your guard down -- ever. As I write in my look at eradicating Japanese knotweed, an effective eradication method for Japanese knotweed is to smother it with heavy, opaque plastic mulch -- i.e., tarps. Don't remove the tarps in fall! If you simply keep the tarps on all winter, you will immediately deprive the leaves of next spring's Japanese knotweed shoots of the light that they require -- they'll never have a chance to lead productive lives....

  • Finally, with winter approaching, your "pampered beasts" are no longer going to be the lawn mower and rototiller. The snowblower is again ready to assume that honor. Snow is as much a reality of the northern landscape in winter as grass is in summer. Pamper your snowblower accordingly! The following tips on readying the snowblower for winter come courtesy of Chase-Pitkin Home and Garden:

    1. Change the oil

    2. Install a new spark plug

    3. Inspect belts for wear and replace if necessary

    4. Lube the drive and chasis

    5. Fill with fresh, clean gasoline

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