[frame_right][/frame_right]With the cooler temperatures coming it’s getting to that time to put your garden to bed for the winter. If you take good measures to protect your shrubs and perennials, and to prepare your soil, you’ll definitely get better return in the spring. Start this process by warding off potential disease for the next year. Discard leaves and stems that show fungal disease or insect damage. Otherwise, spores will inoculate in your soil and re-infest next year’s plants. Many gardeners like to cut everything back, and while you want to clean things up and not leave all the work for spring, we don’t recommend total cutback in the fall. You can clean rotting leaves and stems, like the daylilies, hosta and old annuals, but the stems of many perennials like Black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, and perennial grasses continue to lend interest to the garden over the fall and through winter.
Fall is a great time of year to add on to your soil base. Using a compost or triple mix on your garden now, will help fertilize your plants and keep them healthy. As well, as the leaves start to fall, shred them with your mower and use the leaves as mulch on your garden. This will help to insulate the roots and protect your plants through the winter. You won’t want to mulch newly planted plants until the ground begins to freeze. If you are setting up to protect plants, please remember not to tightly wrap plants in burlap because this can hold ice against the plant tissue. If you want to use burlap, set up stake and burlap barriers, loosely wrapped to protect from wind by breaking up air currents.
Finally, don’t forget to water generously. You don’t want to winter thirsty shrubs and trees. If you have a root feeder, it is an excellent idea to deep water your trees in the late fall, before the freeze. Shrubs appreciate a good drink to see them through winter also.