Protecting Your Garden from Winter Weather

Are you worried your garden may not make it through the winter? Even if you didn’t do much in the way of preparation in the fall, there are still steps you can take to protect your garden.

Water Until the First Freeze

Cold air doesn’t just freeze plants. It’s dry enough to strip away moisture from exposed leaves and branches, leaving them desiccated. Keeping your plants watered until the first freeze helps them retain moisture, so they’ll last longer in open air.

Use Your Leaves as Insulation

Mulch is a great insulator, protecting your plants from extreme temperatures and desiccation. Black Walnut leaves contain a poison called “juglone” that is lethal to many plants. However, composting destroys this chemical. Other leaves are safe to apply directly to your garden, although your plants will get more nutrients if you mulch or compost the leaves first.
Only use a thin layer of material to protect your plants. While freezing is hard on them, you still want the first inch of top soil to freeze. This kills insects and weeds, leaving you with less to deal with next season.

Clean Out Dead Plants

Removing dead leaves, vines and other plant material halts the growth and spread of diseases.

Test Your Soil

Skip the spring rush and get a soil test now. This will tell you which nutrients you need to add for your plants to thrive.

Plant Bulbs

The bulbs that tulips, onion, garlic, crocus and daffodils come from need to be cold before they’ll come out of dormancy. You’ll have the highest success rate if you plant them when temperatures are in the 40s.

Shield Young Trees

When temperatures are hovering around freezing, repeated melting and freezing of water inside trees can split the bark. Apply a paper wrap around the trunk down to one inch below the soil surface to insulate the plant. This helps level out temperature swings.

Protect Your Roses with Cones

Start using cones after the first hard freeze, which is when temperatures dip below 20°F. Adding leaf mold or straw to the inside of the cone helps insulate the plant. This is a good idea, if you live in a place with harsh winter weather, or you’re growing a temperature-sensitive variety. Be sure to trim back the plant, so the cone gives it complete coverage. It’s safe to remove the cone when temperatures stay above 30°F.

Are You Ready for Spring?

If you need your lawn care equipment repaired, do it now before the spring rush. Shank’s Lawn Equipment is an authorized dealer for most major brands, including Cub Cadet, Honda and Troy Bilt. That means we don’t just sell their equipment, we offer the service, parts and accessories you need to get the most from your lawn care tools. Visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, or online at We ship parts and accessories across the United States and Canada.

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