Taking care of your garden in all seasons is an important part of maintaining your landscape. When winterizing your Minneapolis area garden, don’t forget to add a layer of mulch to your flower beds. When you use the right kind of mulch, you’ll add protection the equivalent of another climate zone to delicate perennials and more nutrients to the soil.
When shopping for mulch, stay away from artificially-colored varieties, since they add potentially harmful chemicals to soil. Wood based options are also best avoided, since they can leach valuable nitrogen from the ground.
You can make your own leaf mold, which is what the New York Botanical Garden uses. Other great options are substances like straw, walnut shells, pine bark and cocoa hulls. Keep in mind that smaller mulches, like leaf mold, will decompose more quickly than bigger varieties, like the bark. This means that more of the small mulch would be needed than the large mulch.
Here are some helpful tips about how to properly prepare your garden for winter:
Avoid Covering Plant Crowns
Use evergreen boughs instead of mulch for delicate perennials. If the cut back plants are covered with mulch, they’ll have a harder time growing come spring.
Protect New Roots
For freshly installed plants, surround them with mulch after the first freeze. This extra protection will prevent root damage during the later freeze-thaw cycle when winter ends.
Let Your Trees Breathe
Never apply mulch all the way up to the trunk of your trees. When about 3 inches is left between mulch and bark, there will be less chance of disease and rot.
Make Your Own Leaf Mold
Although it’s too late to make a fresh supply this year, you can easily use the raw material already on the ground for next year’s supply. Rake the leaves into a corner of the yard and let them sit over the winter. Natural decomposition will do the hard work for you. To speed the process up, run your lawn mower over it a few times to break the leaves up into smaller pieces. As mentioned before, the smaller the pieces, the quicker they break down.
Once these steps have been taken, all you need to do is enjoy the winter months without worry about damage or manual soil enrichment. You can take steps now before winter that will pay off in your landscape come spring.