Now that the leaves are down and Jack Frost has killed the annual flowers and laid down the foliage on your perennials, it’s time to get the landscape presentable and ready for the new year. These few simple winter tips will get your garden looking better now, and will help it to thrive next spring!
- Remove dead summer annuals: Cut back the dead foliage but don’t remove the root ball. Even though the roots will not produce new foliage next year, the decomposing root ball will build organic matter in your beds and containers, helping your new plantings to thrive in the new year.
- Cut back dead foliage on perennials: Your perennials will come back and be beautiful again for many springs to come, but most look really bad this time of year. Some people want to cut all the dead foliage away from their perennials, but you may want to leave some seed heads on some species. Coneflower and rudbeckia are two examples of species with seed heads that provide attractive winter interest and also supply food for birds.
- Leave your leaves: Leaves from most of our deciduous tree species in the South make great mulch for themselves and for neighboring trees and shrubs. First, you’ll want to rake or blow them from your lawn area. If you have a plethora of fallen foliage, you can mow or use a line trimmer to chop the leaves. This finer debris is easily added around the base of your plants and will decompose even faster than non-shredded foliage. This composting procedure is the best way to get rid of leaves where you don’t want them while protecting your plants and building the soil in your beds. If you still have too many leaves to use in your beds, consider making a compost pile in a back corner of your garden using these valuable organic assets!
- Plant trees and shrubs now: Late fall and early winter is the best time to plant here in Atlanta. Not only is the ground soft and easy to dig, but that soft, moist soil is a great environment for getting the root systems of the plants settled into their new homes. The winter rains we have here are usually more than adequate for keeping the trees watered.
- Plan for next year: A cold, wet winter’s day is a great time to peruse garden catalogs, magazines, and the internet for new plants and garden design ideas.
Enjoy and have a Happy New Garden Year!