It’s almost time to relax with a cup of hot cider and peruse the seed catalogs that show up every day, but don’t stop quite yet.
The days are short and chilly, but you’ve still got a way to go before you pack it in for the winter.
- Apply anti-dessicant spray to conifers and broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendrons, holly or boxwood. Anti-dessicants provide a protective coating that prevents excessive water loss.
- Continue to water shrubs and trees until the ground freezes.
- Protect half-hardy shrubs like rhododendrons and azaleas with a thick layer of mulch. In cold climates, enclose the shrubs in a wire cage filled with straw or leaves.
- Cover tender perennials with a layer of straw and/or mulch to protect them from frost-thaw cycles.
- Protect rose bushes by mounding soil around the crowns before the ground freezes, then add a layer of leaf mulch or straw. Tie canes loosely with garden twine to protect them from wind damage.
- Protect strawberry plants with several inches of straw.
- Remove grass and weeds, then wrap hardware cloth around the lower trunks of young trees to protect them from mice and other rodents that like to chew on the bark during the winter.
- If you haven’t planted spring bulbs, get them in the ground now before it’s too late.
- Clean up fallen fruit to prevent pests and disease. If there is still fruit on the trees at this point, leave them for the birds.
- Start a few paperwhite bulbs in potting soil or a vase filled with water and pebbles. Start a new pot every couple of weeks for blooms all winter.
- Remove leaves and other debris from the gutters.
- Clean grass from under the lawnmower. Change the oil, clean the air filter and check the spark plugs. Start the mower and let it run until it’s out of gas, then store the mower safely.
- Make sure your snow shovel is in good working condition. Replace cracked or broken handles.
- Prepare birdfeeders before the snow flies. Check them regularly and keep them full.
- Keep an eye on your indoor plants. If they’re looking leggy and yellow, try moving them to a brighter location.