September 28, 2022

Winter is right around the corner—many parts of the state have already seen their first snowfall. As the weather gets colder, many home gardeners are ready to wrap up the season, but there are still some final steps you can take to ensure a successful spring. Gardening expert Jaydee Gunnell, associate professor at USU Extension, has the November and December checklists you need.

Photo courtesy NeedPix
  1. Even in the cold season, Utah’s dry climate can be hard on plants. If precipitation is sparse, make sure the ground isn’t frozen and water your evergreen trees and shrubs. These plants should be well-hydrated before a long winter. 
  2. Continue tree care by wrapping young trees with white tree wrap. This protects vulnerable plants from winter sun damage.
  3. Take your last chance to plant before winter. Gunnell says that fall is a good time to plant nursery stock and spring flowering bulbs. Nursery stock thrives in the cooler weather and can start growing roots for the spring. Plant these before the ground freezes!
  4. Certain perennials, like begonias, dahlias, gladiolas and canna lilies, cannot withstand the cold. After allowing foliage to taper off, Gunnel says gardeners should dig the plants and “allow the underground plant structures to cure in a warm area for 1-2 weeks.” Then, keep them in a dry place away from frost for the rest of the winter.
  5. Now, it’s time to winterize your yard. Start by blowing out your irrigation system. (This can be done by an irrigation professional.) Turn off the main valve and irrigation controller. Then, turn off every other valve and drain water to avoid excess pressure and freezing during the winter. Finish up by disconnecting your garden hose from the water spout.
  6. Your machines need to be winterized too. Save yourself from trouble in the spring by draining the gas or adding a fuel stabilizer to your lawn mower. Next, give your tools some love—clean dirt off of your shovels and hoes, sharpen the blades and rub old engine oil on the blades to prevent winter rust. 
  7. Nobody wants their beautiful lawn to be ruined by snow mold. While cutting your grass for the final time, USU recommends keeping the grass short, about 1-1.5 inches high, to reduce the likelihood of damage.
  8. As the season gets colder, be cautious with deicing compounds, which can damage plants. USU has a full guide on the benefits and drawbacks of deicing compounds.  
  9. Fall is the right time to get ahead of stubborn weeds. Spray perennial weeds, like dandelions and morning glory, after the first frost for a better chance of destroying roots. Then, remove leaves from the vegetable garden to reduce the number of insects.
  10. “Incorporating organic matter is the best thing you could do for your soil,” Gunnell explains. Roto-til your cleared-out veggie garden, mix composted plant material into the soil and add nitrogen.
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