December 20, 2022

7 Winter Gardening Tips from Frankie Flowers

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Have you tucked your garden in for the winter? If you’re already missing it, here are a few winter gardening tips to help you make it to spring! 

Add a bird feeder to your garden

If a quiet, snowy winter land isn’t what you’re after, add a bird feeder to attract feathered friends to your yard. Seeing life in the garden always cheers me up and reminds me that spring is around the corner! 

Remember that the type of food and feeder you choose will impact the kind of birds you attract. Popular choices are sunflower seeds and suet. These attract chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, cardinals, finches, sparrows, and woodpeckers. 

Reduce watering of indoor plants

When you can’t be outside, the next best thing is to grow thriving plants indoors! When daylight hours shorten, indoor plants are not actively growing and use less water. Houseplants don’t like wet feet. They need excellent drainage to ensure they aren’t sitting in water. 

Keep an eye on them and add water only when the top inch of the soil has dried out. Regular misting can be helpful if humidity is low in your home. And if you notice dust on the leaves, pop them in the tub for a quick shower.

Prune maples when dormant 

While you’ll finish most of your pruning before the snow falls, maples and other shade trees can be pruned in early winter when they are dormant. On sunny winter days, it’s great to be in the garden! Gather your tools, head outside, make clean cuts, and only prune 25% of the tree. 

Protect your shrubs from winter winds and sun

Newly planted shrubs or those that lose their leaves in winter do well with a little extra protection. Winter can be tough on even hardy shrubs!  

  • Heavy snow weighs down branches, leaving them misshapen or broken 
  • Frozen soil means evergreens can’t replace moisture in their leaves 
  • Deer and other critters will snack on shrubs to survive the winter

You can wrap your shrub with twine to help it face heavy snow loads, cover it with a burlap sack, or try the 4-post method. 

Hammer 4 posts around the shrub (equally spaced and slightly taller). Wrap burlap around the posts, leaving the top open and staple it into place. This shades the shrub from the sun and protects it from the wind while allowing snow to collect as insulation. 

Keep an eye out for sunscald

Sunscald happens due to extreme changes from the hot sun and cold temperatures. It typically occurs on the south or southwest side of the tree. If you notice tree bark that is elongated, sunken, cracked, or dead, sunscald may be to blame. 

The good news? It’s easily prevented by using a tree wrap or guard around the trunk. Be sure to use a light colour which helps reflect the sunlight. 

Prevent damage from animals 

Rabbits, deer, mice, and other little critters get hungry during the winter. With increased snow loads, rabbits can easily reach lower branches of trees and shrubs. You can keep animals out of your garden with a few tricks. 

  • Spray Skoot animal repellant in the fall (it tastes yucky but won’t harm them) 
  • Use tree guards to protect the bark. 
  • Put chicken wire around plants to help keep the critters out. 
Winter Gardens have beauty of their own

Plan next year’s garden!  

One of the best ways to survive winter is to think of Spring!! Winter is an excellent time to set future gardening goals and plan for new projects. 

Tips to help you plan next year’s garden:

  • Think about all 4 seasons. How can you add colour, interest, and texture in spring, summer, fall and winter? 
  • Take stock. What grew well this year? Was there anything that didn’t perform as you hoped? 
  • Set a budget. It can be easy to get carried away in a garden centre! Head in with a plan and a list. 

It’s the perfect time to snuggle up in front of the fire and plan your gardens and get ready for spring. Until then, winter gardens can be full of interest, texture, and life! I hope these winter gardening tips help protect your trees and shrubs and set you up for success in spring.

Just keep growing!


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