Winter Garden: How to Prepare for the First Frost

garden preparation winter frost

Proper preparation for the winter frost will help your garden thrive in Spring.

The crisp afternoon air of fall has arrived and  the sun is just starting to set a little bit earlier each day. Before we know it, winter will be here and with it the first frost. This means that it’s time to get to the business of preparing for the cold.

Have you given any thought yet to getting your garden ready for winter? How you prepare your garden for the first frost and the long cold winter that follows will have a lot to do with how hearty your garden is when it comes back to life in the Spring.

Here are some tips for how to prepare your garden for the first winter frost, long before you feel the nip in the air.

Prepare container plants for the coming cold. For container gardeners, it’s time to move your containers to a place where they can spend the winter or prepare the containers to withstand the cold. A cool garage or basement that gets some light is a good idea. You can also put mulch around the base of the plant in the container, then wrap the container with insulating material such as foam or bubble wrap.

Start with a little Pre-Spring cleaning. Whether you have a vegetable garden or a flower garden, some fall cleaning is necessary to prepare your garden for spring. Rake up old fruits, vegetables, fallen leaves and twigs.

Get rid of the weeds. It can be tempting just to let the frost kill the weeds – but the problem is, the frost doesn’t kill them; it makes them go dormant. If you don’t pull them out now, they will be the first plants to spring up next April.

Now’s the time to transplant your plants. If you want to move plants, doing it before the ground frosts is a good idea. Plants are just going into dormancy and won’t be so shocked by the move. Take a look around and see if you want to make some changes. Also, if you have perennials that need to be dug up and divided, this is the time.

Break out the bulbs. Break out the fall planting bulbs this time of year. Plant them after you have moved any established plants you want to relocate. It’s also important to dig up non-hardy bulbs before the first frost and overwinter them in a garage or basement.

Mulch, mulch, mulch. Applying a good layer of mulch helps revitalize the soil as the organic matter breaks down over the winter. Mulch also helps keep perennial roots and annual seeds warm.

Make the necessary cuts. If you have perennials that don’t look so great during the winter and don’t provide seeds for birds, cut them back to just a few inches above the ground.

Hydrate your plants for the long winter. Give your garden a good watering before the frost. Sometimes plants die over the winter from lack of moisture rather than the cold.


  1. Actually a full list of the things I do. Well done, all the other articles I read were incomplete.

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