garlic being planted

Prepping Your Garden for the Winter

You spend a lot of time in your garden, from the day you plant the first seed to the first frost. Therefore, it is crucial to consistently care for it throughout the year and winterize it when the time comes.

It's essential to prepare your garden for winter to have a successful flower garden or vegetable garden when spring comes. This process can even be something to look forward to as you look back on everything you have accomplished!


Why Should I Prepare My Garden for Winter?

When you take the time to prepare your garden for winter correctly, it helps your plants survive the cold that winter brings, but it is also an essential step to ensuring the garden will produce colorful flowers in the spring.


When Should I Prepare My Garden for Winter?

The best time to prepare your garden for winter is after the first freeze in the fall. While many types of freezes occur, you want to prepare everything after the first hard freeze. The hard freeze occurs when the temperature gets below freezing overnight.

Once this happens, it is time to prepare your flower garden or vegetable garden for winter. You can also check out the USDA website, which will advise you of the estimated dates of your first and last frosts so you can plan around it accordingly for your region.


How Long Does It Take to Prepare My Garden for Winter?

This answer is different for everyone! Many of the steps needed to winterize your flower garden or vegetable garden are things that can be done over time as the cold weather works its way in. While you don't want to wait too long, not everything has to be done in one day. It shouldn't take more than one or two weekends to prepare your garden for winter.

When the first hard freeze occurs, you want to start the process. However, you can take your time and complete it over the next few weeks. It is vital to accomplish this before the first snow, though, so keep an eye on the weather and plan accordingly!


Ten Steps to Winterize Your Flower Garden and Vegetable Garden

  1. Weed
  2. Protect
  3. Plant
  4. Water
  5. Cover
  6. Remove
  7. Mulch
  8. Clean Up
  9. Wash
  10. Store


Step #1: Pull the Weeds

We all know that pulling weeds is not a fun task, but it needs to be done. Pulling out all the weeds that have built up throughout the growing season must happen as you start to prepare your garden for winter. If you don't remove all weeds, they can continue to invade your garden all winter long.

Make sure to remove any flowers from your flower garden that have died as well, so they do not harbor fungal pathogens. It is essential to remove anything that can be harmful to your future garden. Taking the time to prepare your flower garden or vegetable garden correctly will make a big difference in the spring.


Step #2: Clean-Up and Remove Seasonal Plants

Another task required for preparing your garden for winter includes cleaning up and removing any seasonal plants. While certain flowers in your flower garden will come back year after year, seasonal ones need to be removed.

For example, hydrangeas may last for many seasons to come, but tomatoes in your vegetable garden are only meant for one season of growth at a time. If you don't remove these flowers or vegetables, they can spread bacteria and even take over your healthy plants once spring arrives!

You also want to remove any dead leaves or debris that are in your flower garden or vegetable garden as well. Keeping your flower garden clear of these things will make sure that your new plants will have successful growth. Leaving this debris can cause harm to the future of your garden.


Step #3: Cover Your Flower Garden Beds

While this is not a requirement, it never hurts to add some extra protection to your flower gardens in the winter months. This process is mainly used for new flowers, as seasoned flowers and vegetables don’t need winter protection.

As you prepare your garden for winter after planting lots of new flowers this year, buy a garden cloche and cover the entire area. If you don't want to spend the money on a cloche, get creative and use something around the house. There are many options that you can do yourself. The most important thing is to cover your new flowers and trees to make sure that they will withstand the colder temps.


Step #4: Plant Your New Bulbs

Wondering why you have had so many issues planting bulbs in your flower garden? The ground can be too hard or perhaps they aren't planted deep enough to be protected during the winter months. Planting your bulbs between three to six inches deep can protect them from the cold weather but have them ready to bloom come springtime successfully! Make sure to cover them with mulch so that they are insulated in the ground throughout the winter.


Step #5. Give Your Gardens a Final Dose of Water

It's time to water your flower garden or vegetable garden for the last time! Make sure to give your gardens a nice long watering before the cold temperatures hit. This is important if you have just planted some new flowers or trees as well. That final water will help your plants during the winter months. Make sure to turn off the water source outside once you are done and put your hose away.


Step #6: Cover Your Bushes and Trees

If you have recently planted some trees or bushes, you want to make sure they withstand the cold. All that hard work wasn't for nothing, so this extra protection makes a difference in your new flower garden.

You can use burlap, garbage bags, or even cardboard boxes. Whatever you use, make sure to secure them tightly! This is the most critical step because if they are not secured properly, they will not withstand the winter months or protect your plants.


Step #7: Remove Any Delicate Plants

There are a few delicate plants that you may have sitting in your flower garden that you spent a pretty penny on. If you don't want to risk losing them to the cold, make sure to dig them up and research the best way to store them until spring arrives. Once the warmer weather returns, you can replant them!


Step #8: Add a Fresh Layer of Mulch

You probably think that winter is generally not the time of year to mulch. However, mulching as you continue to prepare your garden for winter will protect the roots. It also helps create a layer of insulation with the snow so that your plants won't thaw and grow too early!

Don't fertilize the new bulbs you planted. While it may be tempting because you want to make sure they are fed for the springtime, this will cause new growth too soon, therefore ruining your flower garden.


Step #9:  Wash All Your Garden Tools

While washing your garden tools may seem like a trivial step, it is essential to take good care of them to use them again. Don't just wash them with water; make sure to use soap and get them clean. Tool upkeep is essential and dirty tools can spread plant disease. If you plan to continue to use these tools in your flower garden or vegetable garden in the future, keeping them clean is important to prevent the spread of bacteria to your new garden.


Step #10: Store Them Away

Just like your flower garden or vegetable garden, your tools need to be stored properly before the cold comes as well. Make sure to store them in a dry space and high up, if possible, where they will not get wet or filled with moisture during the winter. Proper storage will ensure your tools are in the exact condition you left them in when you need them again in the spring.


Do I Need to Prepare My Garden for Winter Yearly?

I bet you are asking yourself if you need to prepare your garden for winter every year. While winterizing your flower gardens and vegetable gardens is a lot of work, you want to do this every year. At the end of your successful season of growing your vegetable garden and flower garden, preparing your garden for winter is crucial since the soil will be lacking in nutrients and filled with weeds.


Should I Hire Someone to Help Me Winterize?

You may be wondering if it's worth hiring a lawn care service to help you prepare your garden for winter.  While it is cheaper to do the process yourself, you can look into hiring a professional if you feel that you need assistance or don't have the time. Most lawn care services will charge based on the size of your yard but will do everything for you and make sure your flower garden or vegetable garden is ready for the winter and cold weather!


What Vegetables Can I Plant as I Prepare My Garden for Winter?

  • Garlic
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Kale


Plant that Garlic!

Planting garlic in your vegetable garden in the fall allows for the roots to begin growing. When the ground freezes, everything stops growing, but once the soil warms up in the spring, the garlic will start growing again right where it left off. Make sure to plant your garlic cloves the flat side down and the pointy end up.


Delicious Beets

It would be best if you planted beets six to eight weeks before the first frost. Then, you can harvest them from your vegetable garden when they are baby greens, or you can leave them in the ground to mature. In many locations, beets can stay in the ground all winter long if the area has been mulched when the cold weather hits. These are a great addition to your vegetable garden and will be delicious!



It would be best if you planted your onions in late August for a late spring harvest. Onions can withstand the cold temperatures, and their growth will kick up in late winter. These are great vegetables to plant before the winter comes giving your vegetable garden a head start for next year!


Sweet Kale

Kale is a great addition to your vegetable garden and is easy to plant. The cold weather makes it sweeter in flavor, making it even more appealing. Kale generally survives freezing temperatures, so it can last well into the warmer months once winter is over making it a great addition to your vegetable garden.


What Flowers Can I Plant as I Prepare My Garden for Winter?

  • Coneflowers
  • Peony
  • Iris
  • Hosta


The Tough Coneflower

The coneflower is a particularly tough flower. However, it tolerates all different types of weather, especially the cold weather. It blooms in the spring and the fall and can withstand the cold temps. Coneflowers come in a variety of colors to choose from.


The Easygoing Peony

Peonies are tough flowers that would be a great addition to your flower garden. They are known to survive long and frigid winters. These flowers require little to no maintenance and generally have a long lifespan returning throughout the year. It is essential to plant them about six weeks before the ground freezes.


The Siberian Iris

The Siberian Iris is a gorgeous flower that comes in numerous different colors. The iris isn't bothered when the temperatures go below zero, making it the perfect flower to plant for the spring. It is known as an ornamental plant being unfazed by the temperature in regions. This specific type of iris will bloom year after year.


The Hosta Perennial

The Hosta perennial is unfazed by cold winters and keeps getting better every single year. It comes in numerous shapes, sizes, and colors. This flower is perfect if you have a garden that has a lot of shade. Sine the Hosta is a perennial, it continues to return yearly, growing bigger each year.


What If I Don't Prepare My Garden for Winter Before the First Frost?

While you want all these steps to be accomplished before the first frost, don't stress if you don't get to everything! Just plan accordingly to complete what you can once the ground thaws and make sure to take good care of your lawn and garden.

It is also beneficial to make a note of what works year after year and what doesn't. This will continue to make the process quicker and more successful each year.

You now have all the tools and information you need to prepare your vegetable garden and flower garden for the winter this year. Make sure to take your time to accomplish all the steps and plan accordingly.

Setting up a timeline is very helpful for ensuring that your garden will be blooming in the spring with flowers and vegetables. Knowing what type of soil you must work with and what flowers and vegetables respond best will ensure you have a gorgeous vegetable garden for the seasons to come.

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