University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Are Your Yard and Garden
Ready for Winter?

November 20, 1997

Significant snowfall caught many of us off guard last weekend. Mid November just seems too early, especially with so many leaves still hanging on the trees. Assuming the snow melts, here's a quick rundown of yard and garden activities to finish preparing for winter.

Certainly the first priority is to take care of those leaves! If they don't get cleaned up, not only will they be a mess all winter but they can cause problems for the lawn. Leaves piled on the grass may favor disease, provide cover for mice, and smoother the grass.

If the vegetable or flower garden never got cleaned up, try to get it done now. In particular, remove plants that were disease or insect infested, such as tomatoes, squash, and other vine crops. This may help reduce carryover problems for the 1998 season.

There is still plenty of time for applying winter mulches to strawberries and perennials. Ideally, the ground should just be starting to freeze, and plants should not be actively growing. The next few weekends should be about the right time for putting these down. Straw is the popular material.

Another area to check now is storage of garden chemicals, including pesticides and fertilizers. Most liquids, and some dry products, should not be allowed to freeze; check the product label. If storing them indoors, place them up and away from children and pets. Make sure the containers are sound. Adequate ventilation is also important.

Dry materials, such as fertilizers, may not be damaged from freezing but do not tolerate moisture. Check to see the package is sealed tightly to protect the contents. Avoid storing on the floor; put them on a shelf or at least off the floor on a pallet or similar structure.

Finally, don't forget about equipment that was not ready for winter when the snow hit. Hoses should be drained of water to avoid damage. Check the owners manual or the implement dealer for the best way to prepare and store the lawn mower.

Perhaps we still have some nice late fall weather left, maybe even Indian summer. But waking up to snow last saturday certainly is a reminder we cannot put off late fall gardening chores much longer!


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