How to Prepare a Winter Gardening Plan…in the Summer!
How refreshing it is to breathe in the clean scents of summer! The fresh cut grass, flowers in full bloom, plump garden vegetables, and, of course, the wafts of BBQ from the outdoor grill—it’s no wonder we spend so much time out on our lawns and gardens during the summer.
But there’s no reason we can’t enjoy a beautiful yard even when it’s covered in snow. In fact, maintaining a lawn during the colder months doesn’t just offer some lovely winter landscapes; it’s crucial to ensuring our yards stay healthy all year round. For example, residents of Alaska, who face incredibly fickle and extreme climates throughout the year, consider their yard’s seasonal health from the moment they construct a lawn and choose their grass!
Fortunately, you don’t have to plant an entire new level of grass to ensure your yard stays beautiful and healthy in the winter. As you spend time in your yard this summer, consider some easy winter gardening tips to help you maintain your home’s curb appeal as soon as the weather starts to turn.
Find Your Flowers
There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the color and smell of fresh flowers, even in the winter. There are many options of flora and fauna that can be planted in the summer and enjoyed come winter. A few examples of winter flowers include:
- Viburnum: a scented, deciduous shrub whose leaves change color depending on the season. Its gray-blue leaves of summer turn reddish in fall, and in the winter, depending on the species, it can sprout either fragrant pink flowers or bright red fruit.
- Allium bulbs: produce bunches of foot-high lilac, star-shaped flowers in spring or summer. In the winter, they keep their structure, and turn almost silver.
- Witch Hazel: fragrant in summer, its bursts of spider-shaped red-and-yellow flowers continue to shine in the winter.
Prepare Your Plants
Towards the end of the summer, you should start doing basic housekeeping for your flower beds and flower pots. For example, your annuals—flowers that just grow for one season—won’t last through the cold season. So why not get rid of any dead foliage early on, and help your garden look clean and tidy come winter.
Meanwhile, you should also start preparing your perennials to grow back once the frost thaws. While the above ground foliage of perennials can freeze and die, their roots do not, and they can regrow come spring. Cut the stems back to soil level to neaten the garden and remove any pests or spores. However, you should leave stems with fuller seed heads as they can accumulate snow for a beautiful winter effect.
Strengthen Your Soil
There are many techniques you can start implementing in the summer in order to keep your soil fertile and fresh, even when covered with ice and snow.
For example, as soon as the mulch you laid in the summer has decomposed, start spreading a new, thicker layer for winter. This will help keep the temperature of your yard even, and protect plants and soil during the colder weather.
Further, you can create an organic soil ‘conditioner’ by composting dead plants, which can help kill weeds and diseases.
Lastly, be sure to aerate your lawn. This will allow air and water to penetrate into the soil, reduce soil compaction, increase fertilizer and lime penetration, encourage root growth, and reduce thatch—all key components of having a healthy lawn that has a better chance of standing up to winter.
Harness Your Hardscaping
Hardscaping—or any constructed aspects of landscaping—can play a huge role in a beautiful winter lawn. Consider decorating your yard with structures such as trellises, benches, arbors, statues, or other garden structure. You can build and use them in the summer, and then enjoy them as a focal point to your garden throughout the winter.
Snow might force us to stay inside more during the winter, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t take pleasure in our yards in the cold months through some basic winter gardening. Start planning how you want your winter lawn and winter flowers to look, and maintain your yard throughout the summer by mowing, weeding, and watering it continuously. That way, your garden won’t only be healthy and beautiful for winter, but will stay lush for next summer’s outdoor adventures.