A Few Fall Cleanup & Winter Preparation Chores

Here are some suggestions for preparing your yard for winter, this makes yard maintenance much easier to deal with in the Spring!

Picture of Raking Leaves

  • Clean Plant Pots: Wash grime & rings away with a 50/50 water and vinegar solution. Works well on both plastic and clay containers.
  • Clean out the gutters, but wait until all the leaves have dropped. Check for leaks and any wear and tear and fix now before it snows or freezes over. This will help ensure your gutters are up to the task when Spring rains hit.
  • Check tree branches and lightly trim any that are close to the house. Too much trimming at this time of year can damage a tree, so just do enough to keep the branches out of reach over winter (keeping in mind heavy winds and snow).
  • Before storing the patio umbrella away for the winter, take a pair of pantyhose and use one leg to cover the closed umbrella and the other leg to wrap around the bottom (to keep it closed). This will help protect the umbrella yet still give it air to breathe.
  • Spray down all patio furniture and if not brought inside (garage) to winter, tarp them. This will help the furniture last a lot longer, especially wood furniture.
  • Remove or cover all open containers and pots. Helps protect them when it freezes plus you don’t want to provide pools of water for a mosquito breeding ground in the spring.
  • If you have bags of birdseed to feed the birds in the fall and over winter, make sure the bags are in covered containers. The mice *will* find them otherwise and camp out in your storage area.
  • Fill a pail with sand and used motor oil. Dig your garden tools in the mixture to sharpen them up and clean them.

Getting Your Garden Ready For Winter

Picture Of Rose Bush Preparation - Tipnut.comRoses

Before hard freeze, tie tops of the individual plants together with cloth strips to strengthen them against wind. Then mound earth up around stems to six or eight inch depth. After ground freezes, surround plants with 12 to 15 inches of straw, hay or loose leaves. If wind threatens to remove your mulch, anchor it with collars of wire mesh, building paper, or an inverted bushel basket with the bottom knocked out. Don’t prune roses in the fall; but unusually long canes can be cut back to average height, as they might break off anyway.


The cold won’t kill them, but collected moisture and the heaving action of alternate freeze and thaw might do damage. Late in autumn, put a little mound of sand or coal ashes over the crown of each plant, to drain away moisture.


If you have divided and re-planted, or started cuttings, protect new plants with a few inches of light straw. Old established clumps need no protection.


After frost but before leaves dry up and fall off, cut stems down close to ground. Foliage must be burned or destroyed and not added to compost pile since the foliage may harbor pests or diseases. Mark peony positions with a few stakes to keep you from trampling them. No other winter protection is needed.


Except for day lilies and a few other exceptionally hardy types, lilies appreciate a light mulch covering. Well rotted leaf mold is good, and can be left on all year. Put a little sand or coal ashes over the top of each plant to keep moisture from collecting on the crown.


After heavy frosts kill foliage, cut off stems six inches above ground and cover each plant with straw or hay. In areas of extreme cold, mound soil over the base much as you would for roses, and then mulch with straw. Tender types or especially valuable specimens should be lifted and moved to a cold frame.


After killing frost, cut off plants six inches above ground, allow to remain two weeks to ripen. Then dig tubers carefully so as not to break tubers from stem. Allow clump to drain and dry so soil shakes off, then dust with sulphur to prevent rot, and store in a cool dry place. Pack in a dry material such as sand, sawdust or newspapers, and do not allow to freeze. Next spring cut tubers apart, leaving a bud on each.


After killing frost, cut tops, lift roots and store like dahlias. Wait until spring to divide.


Water them during dry spells, through fall and even winter on mild days. In cold sections, mulch over root area after ground has frozen with three inches of leaves, straw or peat to preserve moisture and prevent alternate freezing and thawing. If you live where heavy snow may be expected, put props under large branches or tie branches together to prevent breakage.


After ground freezes, cover lightly with straw, hay or loose leaves.

Fruit and Flowering Trees

If there are rabbits around, you might wrap trunks of young trees with paper or cloth up about three feet or surround them with wire mesh. In northern regions, magnolias and flowering dogwoods need a winter mulch of loose leaves or peat moss around the base.

Source: The WorkBasket (1952)

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