Winterizing Chores Made Easy
by Rob Sproule
When it comes to gardening chores, there are “should” do’s and “can” do’s. “Should” do’s are often a massive list of technical jobs that, if you’re short on time, can risk turning a beautiful hobby into a chore.
If you’re like the majority of the population, time isn’t easy to come by. Between work, soccer for the kids, dinner, and everything else that needs to be done, there is often very little left.
“Can” do chores are for people who may only have an hour or less a day to spend in the yard, and they want to spend it well. I’m one of those people, and this article is for us.
Winterizing the yard can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to make winterizing chores a little easier, and a little less time consuming, so that people like us can spend more of our scarce free time enjoying the yard that we love.
Winterizing your Pots
No, you don’t have to drag those 200 pound ceramic pots into the garage, provided you take a few precautions first. It’s not the cold that will crack those clay or glazed pots, it’s moisture.
If you planted annuals in your pots, the roots will probably have formed a dense mass already. Simply pull it out and drop it in the compost. If there is still soil left over after you pull out the annuals, you can leave it in there for next year as long as it’s dry. If it’s wet, it will freeze and crack.
Pile your pots together, making sure the sides or insides aren’t wet, and throw a piece of plastic over them to keep the moisture out. Take away the plastic in the spring and you have ceramic pots ready to plant with a minimum of lifting.
Winterizing the Lawn
The most important time saving thing you can do with your lawn is to grass-cycle. That means taking the bag off the mower and letting the clippings fall back into the lawn. It’s better for the lawn because it acts as both mulch and fertilizer, not to mention that it’s better for your back because you don’t have to haul bags of cut grass around.
When you give your lawn its last cut, raise the blades a bit. Don’t stress if some leaves get mowed into the lawn as they will act as fertilizer, as well. If there are too many, however, you may want to rake them up as they take a long time to break down. You want to avoid a lot of intact leaves because they can lead to mice and snow mold.
One place you can’t save time is with apples. You will need to pick them all up to keep apple maggot at bay. If you have extra, invite your neighbours to pick them so they don’t go to waste.
When I was in elementary school I used to marvel at how an igloo, a house made of ice, could keep people inside warm even through Arctic nights. Ice is an excellent insulator, and it’s your gardens best hope to survive our dreaded zone 3 winters.
Water your garden vigorously before freeze-up, especially your fruit trees and perennial beds. The goal is for the roots to be like popsicles when they freeze solid. This will save you a lot of time and money (on replacements) in the spring.
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