The shadow of Winter loomed large in the brooding skies and biting air.  Foliage lay fleeced in the icy dew of the killing frosts.  Birds and squirrels hasten their preparations as nature shifts to self-preservation mode for the long, cold season ahead.

We too must heed nature’s call by preparing our lawn and landscapes for their long Winter slumber, and by doing so, we’ll be able to put our best foot forward, both for ourselves and our outdoor spaces, come Spring.

For vegetable gardens, harvest any late season vegetables or fruit and remove all debris and rotten vegetation.  Pull up tomato, pea and bean plants and compost them, only if they are disease free.  Gently till the soil to expose any potential overwintering pests.  This has proven to be an effective method in reducing Japanese Beetles as their grubs overwinter in soil.  After tilling, add a layer of compost or leaves to the soil to help boost the soil’s fertility with organic matter.

Continue to clean up and weed flower beds.  Weeds can still harbor disease and insects.  Cut back perennials and ornamental grasses, although both can certainly be left for local wildlife and Winter interest.  Apply mulch to beds, about 2-3″ deep.

Protect small trees and shrubs from extreme cold and drying winds by surrounding them with snow fencing, packed with leaves or straw.  Prune deciduous trees after they go dormant.  Pay special attention to diseased, broken or crossing limbs.

Spring flowering bulbs can still be planted as long as the ground is not frozen, although the window of opportunity is quickly closing.

Clean out gutters, clean and store gardening tools and remember to drain and store hoses.

Take a few moments to think about what worked well this year and what didn’t, and lastly, be sure to reach out to Sweeney’s for assistance in preparing your lawns and landscapes for Winter.  And by doing so, you’ll help ensure their viability and health come Spring.

Plant of the Week

Charles Joly Lilac

Medium sized, deciduous, upright shrub produces fragrant, deep magenta, double flower clusters in early to mid Spring amongst bright green foliage.  Prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil.  Grows 8-12′ tall and 8-12′ wide.   Attracts hummingbirds.

“The wild November comes at last

beneath a veil of rain,

The night wind blows its folds aside-

Her face is full of pain.

The latest of her race, she takes

The Autumn’s vacant throne;

She has but one short moon to live,

And she must live alone.”

-R.H. Stoddard

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney