9 Must-Do Garden Tasks Before the Holiday Rush
While there is a lot to do this time of the year, with it being the holidays and gardens nearing the end of their growing season, there are a handful of tasks that should stay on your to-do list.
After all, who wants to deal with leaf-clogged downspouts when company is on their way over? Do yourself a favor and avoid last-minute emergencies by handling these garden tasks now.
1. Take Care of Fallen Leaves
Either mow the leaves into the grass, or rake them off your lawn, pathways and ground cover plants. Consider spreading the leaves under trees and shrubs (keeping them away from the trunks) so that they can decompose slowly over winter and add nutrients back into the soil, rather than putting them into the green bin.
2. Mulch Beds
If you are expecting guests over the holidays and want your winter garden to look well-kept, spread a layer of bark mulch. Not only does mulching in the fall and winter help prevent stormwater runoff, it protects tender bulbs, perennials and shallow-growing roots from cold damage. Simply spread a layer of mulch 2 to 4 inches deep on top of any bare soil areas in your planting beds, while keeping the mulch 2 to 4 inches away from the trunks of any trees or bushes.
3. Add Fresh Gravel
Spreading fresh gravel on pathways, patios and driveways will give them an instant pick-me-up. In addition, that extra 1 to 2 inches of extra gravel can help keep boots cleaner and drier, reducing the amount of mud tracked into the house.
With the holidays fast approaching, be sure to order your gravel delivery well in advance and arrange for any assistance needed for spreading the gravel. For gravel driveways, the depth of the gravel should be kept between 6 to 8 inches total. Factor in a bit extra if you live in a snowy area where gravel gets displaced by shoveling or plowing.
4. Clean the Gutters
Clear leaves and other debris from your gutters, noting any areas in need of patching or repair. Then, run a hose down the downspouts to loosen any stuck leaves. Make sure the runoff from the downspouts flows into your garden beds and not onto walkways.
5. Get Ready for Frost
Relocate any tender potted plants indoors, in greenhouses or other sheltered areas. Next, locate or stock up on supplies needed for protecting in-ground plants susceptible to frost damage. If you have cold frames, dust them off and position them over plants.
6. Clear and Store Containers
Empty out any seasonal container arrangements, planting perennials you want to save into flower beds and throwing annuals onto the compost pile. Any potting soil remaining in the containers can be cleared of root balls and raked onto beds as a mulch or added into garden soil.
Ceramic and terra-cotta containers should be moved into a sheltered area or placed against the house and covered with a tarp to prevent cracking during the freeze-thaw cycle. Remember, the less exposure to moisture they get, the better.
7. Fix Any Safety Issues
Evaluate your yard and any high-use outdoor areas to see if there are spots that might be a hazard to guests. For instance, wobbly railings, unevenness in pathways, or a crack in a deck step might be an issue. Also, are there any dead tree branches that may be at risk of falling? Once problem spots have been identified, make repairs, clean walkways and cut back branches as needed.
8. Clean Outdoor Furniture
Before you put outdoor furniture away for the season, brush off the chairs, take off the cushions and wipe down the tables. If you’re planning on using outdoor furniture throughout the winter, a heat source and extra throw blankets are a great addition for comfort during cold temperatures.
9. Sanitize Garden Tools
While pruning fruit trees can wait until after the holidays, cleaning your tools cannot. Get them ready for another year with a thorough cleaning. To properly clean and sanitize clippers, immerse them in a mix of bleach and water or rubbing alcohol and water, then take them out and let them fully dry. Doing this will help prevent the spread of disease between plants. Trowels and shovels can be sanitized the same way (just be sure to scrub them clean of dirt first). In addition, take care of any wooden handles by rubbing furniture oil on them before putting them away.