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Putting Your Garden to Bed for Winter

It may be hard to believe, but fall is upon us. For homeowners with gardens, it means that it’s time to start thinking about getting the garden ready for its long winter’s nap. With that in mind, spoke to Denis Flanagan from Landscape Ontario about some essential pre-winter gardening tips.

  1. Time it Right

There isn’t a single “right time” to get your garden ready for the colder weather. Timing will depend on the types of plants that you have in the ground, and how late in the season you personally would like to be working outside. “In general, after plants have lost their leaves and start to go dormant, it’s ok if you wait for the first light frost,” says Flanagan.

Keep in mind that there are certain plants that will need to be protected before the temperature drops too much. Flanagan suggests wrapping slightly tender plants like Hybrid Tea Roses and rhododendrons in burlap by mid-November.

  1. Protect and Prepare

If you were planning to prune your hydrangeas this fall, you might want to put those garden shears down. Most perennials should actually be left unpruned over the winter.

“The crowns of the plant are protected this way and in addition you will be leaving seed heads available for birds to feast on,” Flanagan tells us.

If you have tropical plants, inspect them for insects and then bring them indoors prior to the first frost. Denis Flanagan also says that this is also the time to protect sensitive evergreens from winter sun or road salt damage by using burlap screens.

  1. Clean it Up

A little cleanup in the fall, goes a long way come springtime. That means pulling any debris out from under the shrubs, turning the soil over in your vegetable garden, and emptying planters. However, you might want to leave those yard waste bags at the store. “Rake leaves and leave them to mulch under trees and shrubs,” Flanagan suggests.

  1. Prep for Spring

In addition to putting your garden to bed for winter, now is also a fantastic time to put new plants into the ground. If you’re looking forward to new trees, shrubs, or evergreens, don’t wait till spring, when you can start now. “The air is cool but the soil is still warm, [which is] great for root development,” Flanagan explains.

Of course, this is also the time to put spring bulbs in the ground and dream of the warmer weather to come …eventually.

  1. Educate Yourself

If this was your first year gardening, or if you’ve often had trouble maintaining a garden, now is the time to get ready for next season. The off-season provides a chance for you to network with other gardeners, read some basic gardening books and blogs, and to visit your local nursery for advice and inspiration.

Above all, enjoy this time of year. Fall is actually a wonderful time for gardening, because you get to plan and create what your garden will look like for the next year.

Don’t want to look after the garden yourself? Browse the listings of professional landscapers here on, and then hire someone to do it for you!


Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association, one of the most vibrant associations of its kind, is comprised of over 2,000 member companies, ten sector groups and nine local chapters. Its trade mission is to promote the horticulture industry in Ontario, and its public mission, Green for Life, promotes the joys and benefits of plants and green spaces. Visit // for more information.

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