Winter Gardening

Winter Garden

Winter Gardening: When you do the things around the garden that you don’t have time for the rest of the year.

Gardening is a lot of work. And while we’re working our little booties off, planting, fertilizing, managing pests, and harvesting, our big garden plans often get pushed to the back burner. So take advantage of things slowing down in winter to work on your projects to make next growing season even better!

I like to make a list of what I would like to improve upon in the garden throughout the year (I keep a note on my phone where I keep all gardening ideas, to-do’s, and notes. It’s really easy to access while I’m outside working or at the garden center getting supplies.) Then once cold-weather strikes, I take a look at my list and start tackling each task.

This year my list includes, expanding the compost pit, creating a tee-pee structure to trellis some vegetables next year, and preparing the land for a new garden bed.

A gardener’s work never really ends. There’s always more to learn and do! So take a step back and really evaluate your yard. Get some ideas together and start working towards the garden of your dreams!

Do Some Clean-Up

Prune in the winter

Winter is a great time to cut back any overgrown shrubs and hedges, while they are fully dormant. Just like you and me, plants must heal from cuts. So it’s best to bring on stress from pruning while the plants do not have to worry about putting out new leaves, flowers, and fruit. They will use the saved energy to help them easily recover from pruning. It will also be easier to prune because the branch structure of deciduous shrubs and ornamental and fruit trees is much easier to see.

  • Selectively prune to maintain a natural outline
  • Cut back hard (a few inches above the ground) and hope it will re-sprout
    • Not Conifers though! They won’t always regenerate once you’ve cut them back to bare stems. Chances are it will return bushier, but there is some risk of killing the plant.
    • If you chop back spring-flowering shrubs (Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Lilacs, and Viburnums), you’ll be taking off spring blossoms. A diminished show next year may be an acceptable price for taming a part of the garden.

Cut back spent perennials to the ground once they have turned brown and dry.

Remove invasives like wisteria, honeysuckle, clematis, & bittersweet. Make sure to take out all the roots so they definitely won’t come back!

Take Advantage of Winter Bargains at the Garden Center

Pottery for sale

Out-of-season perennials may not look the best, so garden centers are forced to put them on sale. Nothing is wrong with them though; they’ll come back next spring good as new! Plant them anytime the ground is workable (not frozen). Be careful not to mess up the growing tips in the crown.

Discounted pottery is also easier to find during the winter.

Take advantage of these discounts while you can. You’ll spring-self will thank you!

Evaluate This Year’s Garden & Devise Next Year’s

One of last year's harvests

Is it time for a makeover?
What did you not like this past season?
Anything overgrown or under-performing?

Use the winter as a time to get those creative juices flowing. Put pen to paper and begin to plan for next year. Make notes about this year’s garden while it’s still fresh in your mind and decide how you can improve upon it for the next.

Think about plants you might want to try next year and order those seeds or pre-order the plants.

Take Care of Big Projects

Outdoor Kitchen

Look around at different companies for estimates for garden structures, like paver walkways, arbors, retaining walls, and fire pits. This time of year is the down-season for most landscaping companies. During Spring and Summer, there’s often a wait-list for big projects, so scheduling in winter will assure you can quickly schedule projects you want done.

I’m sure your loved one would LOVE a new outdoor kitchen 😉

Expand Your Knowledge

Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center

In the world of plants, there’s ALWAYS something new to learn. I learn something new every single day I work in the garden. It’s smart to get new ideas while you aren’t extra-busy tending to plants.

  • Check out the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center. They have some awesome demonstration gardens, which will help you get a sense of what certain plants look like together and during the winter. Maybe you’ll fall in love with a new plant!

    It’s completely free to visit 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
    1444 Diamond Springs Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23455

So instead of sitting around and sulking because you can’t stare at your favorite flowers, get out there and do some winter gardening!

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