Matador Maple

Winter Garden Prep Basics

Cold weather is setting in, and that means it’s time to think about winter garden prep. Here’s a quick list of critical considerations as you get your garden ready for winter.


Good hydration at the roots is essential to happy plants next season. Newly installed plants need to be watered up until the ground is frozen. Water until around mid-November and don’t skip your evergreens! Remember- the ground takes longer to freeze than the air, so even though it’s cold above ground, the soil is much warmer and roots are still active. Check out this cool soil temperature map if you’re curious about soil temps in your area.  

After the last few years of drought, even mature plants are exhibiting signs of stress, and they could use a bit of extra love. Consider offering your established trees, shrubs, and perennial beds some supplemental water as part of your winter garden prep this year.


Be sure to mulch new plants, especially if you planted them later in the season. Likewise, established plants in your landscape will benefit from some added protection over winter. Mulch helps insulate the soil and minimize temperature fluctuations.

In addition to wood mulch, using fallen leaves from healthy trees as mulch is cost effective, enriches soil, and provides essential protection and habitat to a myriad of beautiful beasts. Birds, butterflies and moths, bees, frogs and toads, and a huge number of other critters rely on fallen leaves. Why not help them out? Try raking leaves onto your garden beds or into an out of the way place in your yard.

Fall leaves
Just look at that cozy winter habitat.

Check out this Xerces Society post if you want more information on wildlife friendly fall cleanup.


Now is a superb time to add soil amendments. Annual and vegetable beds as well as landscape beds would love a layer of compost. The extra insulation and nutrition provided by amendments like compost go a long way toward building healthy soil and the healthy plants that follow. We carry Cowsmo brand compost and we’ve seen great results with it. 


If you haven’t already, protect young trees from animal damage, frost cracking, and sun scald with tree wraps/tubes.  Deer, rabbits, and mice can do extreme damage to trees over winter if they are left unprotected. Fruit trees and trees that are under 6 inches of caliper are especially vulnerable. It’s also a good time to fence off or apply repellent products to shrubs that are prone to damage.  

Now get out there and enjoy the crisp fall weather!