How to Winterize the Garden

How to Winterize the Garden

When the first of November approaches it’s very common for a freeze to be right around the corner.  Sometimes this doesn’t happen until the end of the month in North Texas but I like to get prepared early because leaving things to the last minute normally means more chores later.

You may have already experienced that first freeze and if that’s the case keep reading because many of the things, I’m sharing will be helpful in the coming months.

Let’s dive in and learn how I winterize and clean up the garden with natural material.

Winterize the Herbs

Beautify the Herbs

The first thing is to inspect and kind of beautify the perennials beginning with herbs.

I like to see how these plants are doing because I cook with them over the winter months.  They’re doing amazing and still producing which means removing dead leaves or damaged stems is all that’s necessary.

This can be done by pinching off easy to remove foliage or clipping with shears.   Damaged cuttings are set aside into a waste pile or bucket and this process is continued through the garden with plants like roses, day lilies, berries and so on.

All perennial plants get my attention first and I don’t normally do any heavy fall trimming back because I enjoy those shades of green as long as possible.

If you’re plants are out of control you may want to cut about a 1/4 back just so they maintain a shaped appearance.

Where to trim back plants for winter

Perennial and Annual Bloomers

Some of my bloomers like Lantana are still producing so I decided to trim back these back quite a bit because once the first freeze hits this plant will turn a dark brown almost black color.  The plant itself isn’t dead but it will need to be trimmed back to the base so it will grow back in the spring.

Since mine still looks pretty amazing I gave it basically a hair cut by clipping stems from the base and where some branch out from the main vine.

This plant grew without hesitation this year; over the summer the butterflies and hummingbirds really enjoyed the blooms.

I also have annual zinnias still blooming, some of these I pulled out by the root and others I cut back and made vase arrangements. I just couldn’t part with the other plants quite yet because they still have buds ready to blossom.

So, basically you want to remove all of your annuals and trim back your perennials on a as needed basis.

Finishing up the garden

How to Dispose of Cuttings

After I took my flower cuttings and made vase arrangements, I had all this debris from my trimmings. Normally I dispose of cuttings and dead stems two ways.

  • Let dry then burn and use cooled ashes in raised beds.
  • If I’m establishing new beds, I drop debris into these bed and later cover with soil.

In this case I happen to be establishing a new raised bed so I opted for adding debris into the bottom.  This frame will be raised about a foot over the winter as I prep it for Spring planting.

Natural Materials For Mulch

Adding Natural Materials for Warmth

I like to cover my beds with a type of natural blanket using materials I already have.  When we lived on our farm pine and cypress needles were gathered.

Last year I made my own mulch and this year I’ve decided to use in season fall leaves.   This is easy enough because they happen to be everywhere right now so I rack a pile, dump into a 5-gallon bucket and take over to the beds.

Adding Mulch to winterize garden beds

Covering the Soil

These leaves cover every raised bed for warmth, think of it as a warm blanket while reading a good book.

This material is great soil insulation keeping the roots protected from harsh temperatures. I place about 3 to 6 inches thick over the soil because they will pack down and eventually decompose.  This step is so good for the soil.

Leaves are also added to our berry beds and all winter I continue to add direct compost to all my raised beds.

Seed Planter Boxes

Covered Seed Starter Boxes

I love my Covered seed starter boxes; these are one of my favorite shop products.  I have lettuce, spinach and kale growing in these and even though they’re pretty water logged they doing their best to grow.  Some natural sunlight would be an amazing blessing.

These boxes were also filled with leaves and when the freeze arrives all I have to do is fit the lid on top the night before. This makes life super easy!

Seed starter box building plans can be found here and boxes can be ordered here. 

Winterizing your garden is really not that difficult and quite honestly, I’d rather do this than clean house any day of the week.

Think I’m adding another one of those seed starter boxes in February.

Winterize the garden and it's done

Since we can have winters that offer shifting temperatures, I like to keep light tarps handy.  These are used to cover vegetable plants like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower when it freezes.  I lightly place the tarp over the top of those beds and remove in the morning when temps are above 33 degrees.

Tarps can be purchased at reasonable prices and I prefer the lightweight variety because they don’t crush the plants.  Atwoods is a great place to shop tarps.

Winterizing the garden is just really common sense and a matter of clean up, cover up and protect the veggie annuals you’re trying to keep growing.

When mid-January arrives, I’ll cover the top of my beds again but this time it will be a nice layer of top soil.  This is also when I like to animals fertilize and do any necessary clean up.

Take an afternoon to winterize your garden and enjoy the process because it really is a fun garden activity.

How to Winterize the Garden even when the annuals are still blooming. Get these simple steps using natural materials. #Winterizegarden, MulchGarden, #Gardenseasons


  1. Cd Loken says:

    Great tips, Carole!! I was out this past weekend covering some flower beds with leaves as well. They were just a bit damp from recent rain so were much easier to handle!!? Good thing I was able to do this because it’s a brisk 18 degrees here and we just had our first light dusting of snow!! Have a great weekend!!

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you! 18 degrees that just hurts my head thinking about it. LOL Our leaves are also very damp which sure does make it easier to gather.

  2. Harbor Freight is another good spot for tarps. Several times a year they’ll have coupons for free or deeply discounted tarps.

    Good reminder on the lantana. Mine is still in bloom but I do need to cut it back. It’s huge this year. I’ve been waiting for a few days of really dry weather so I can clean out and prep the chicken coop for winter. So far it keeps raining every few days. 🙁

    PS I really like your red lantern. Did you make that?

    1. Carole says:

      The red lantern was a surprise from Robert – Think he got it at Home Depot. I have an LED light that looks like a candle that goes inside. Love it and going to do something fun with it for Christmas. So, my lantana did overly amazing this year too which was surprising. Didn’t expect it to take over that entire bed but it did. Awe the chicken coop… I think if we ever get a rain break I’m going to build a run off mine for days when I don’t want chickens on my front porch. They’ve become rather social and even knocked on the door yesterday.

  3. daisy says:

    I’m with you on that. I don’t mind cleaning house, but I’d much rather be out cleaning up the garden. Great tips. We have a ton of leaves here as well, and they make great insulators. We have a freeze expected on Saturday night, so I will be doing some covering.

    1. Carole says:

      The leaves are falling like crazy here so much that Robert asked me why did I put them in the garden over the rock. I looked at him and said really? It fall that’s what they do… Have a great weekend!

  4. Patti says:

    Luckily for us we have a huge stand of oaks behind our property so the garden gets covered naturally in the fall. Unluckily for us is that oak leaves don’t break down so we have to rake a lot in the spring. Loved your newsletter about goal setting today. I’m terrible about setting goals. However, I’m good with re-grouping along the way. 🙂
    PS I think the Texas rain has made it to PA today. Hopefully that means I’ll get a lot of computer work done today.

    1. Carole says:

      Regrouping is good – or you know just erase and start over. LOL
      Our rain is insane – I have no other word to describe it and I’m ready to escape but not sure where I’d go. I have to admit though I am getting a lot of work done on the computer so it’s not all bad. Oak leaves… I love those but yes they would take forever to break down. What about mulching them? Like in a chopper?

  5. Krystal says:

    We had some fairly early freezes here on our homestead this fall, and I’m beginning to think this is going to be a rough winter for us. I must admit: I love winterizing and preparing for a new growing season! Starting from scratch back at the dreamer’s drawing board!

    1. Carole says:

      Enjoy the winter -I find it’s a good time to regroup…

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