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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!

Getting Your Garden Ready For Winter


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)