As fall turns to winter here in the Triangle, it’s time to get those bulbs in the ground for spring, prune up and let the soil rest.
by Isabella Sterk
As leaves are falling and blooms start to fade, it may seem like the time to take a break from gardening—but in fact, it’s a good time to shape up your yard and plan ahead for the next growing season. We talked to the landscaping director at Logan’s Garden Shop, Mike Riha, who shared seven tips for what to do in your garden this month.
Plant shrubs and trees
“As counterintuitive as it sounds, this is the best time of year to plant things,” Riha says. As the weather is cooling off, materials in the ground are going dormant, which means that you don’t have to do much supplemental watering or care. “If folks have been holding off or thinking about planting big trees or shrubs or things like that, we recommend that now’s the time to do it!” Riha says.
Get spring bulbs into the ground
“This is prime time for bulbs,” Riha says, and they’re easy to find at garden stores this time of year. Look for daffodils and other bulbs like tulips, hyacinths, Dutch iris and more to plan between now and the end of winter.
Bring in sensitive plants
“You want to make sure you’ve brought all that sensitive tropical stuff you’ve been growing above ground,” Riha says. Since the first frost of the winter is usually in the first couple weeks of November, now is the time to get tropical or sensitive plants like citrus trees, fiddle figs or succulents into the garage or sunroom so the frost doesn’t get them.
Take advantage of the cooler weather to get your labor-intensive yard work done. “There’s no reason to be suffering out in the yard in the summertime when you can do all of your pruning and hard labor sorts of tasks this time of year,” Riha says. Plus, he says, pruning now, when trees and shrubs aren’t laden with leaves or fruit, is easier on both the plant and the person. “If you have things that need cutting back, this is the time of year that you can go about pruning your small trees, shrubs or whatever it might be,” Riha says.
Plant winter edibles
Though the time to plant winter vegetables has passed for the most part, Riha says could still plant things like turnips and winter greens, things from the cruciferous family. “There are turnips and winter greens and things like that that you could still do, even this late in the year,” he says. Additionally, certain herbs and greens (parsley, dill,lettuce) might do well by a sunny window inside if you don’t want to trek out in the cold to harvest them.
Stock up on garden decor
The off-season is a great time to stock up on larger garden and patio pieces, because things are often on sale. Riha suggests keeping an eye out for exterior pottery for annuals, rocking chairs and other porch decor to replace things that may be worn out from the summer.
Cozy up indoors and wait
Last step: do nothing. Mother Nature does her work in the colder months: the soil regenerates itself, roots and bulbs rest and recharge and so much more is happening. So sit back and wait until March for colorful blooms to come back. “It’s a waiting game,” Riha says, “but worth it if you do the work now.”