Preparing for a Winter Garden – Time to Winterize
With the onset of cooler weather, now is the time to take a few simple precautions to protect your garden treasures. Last winter’s frigid temperatures and relentless ice and snow wreaked havoc on many of our gardens and ornaments, so a few hours of preparation now will be well-spent.
Before the first freeze, take the time to winterize your fountain so you’ll be able to enjoy it year after year. Pumps should always be removed, cleaned and stored indoors in a sealed plastic bag to prevent the rubber pump seals from drying out and cracking. Water lines should be drained or ‘blown out’ to avoid freezing. Unless your fountain is deemed ‘winter hardy’ (ie, lead, bronze, etc), you’ll want to cover it to avoid damage from freezing and thawing. Garden Accents offers a selection of neat and tidy-looking fountain covers in a wide variety of sizes to cover most fountains, and their green or beige coloring help them blend into the surroundings much better than those bright blue construction tarps. After emptying, make sure the basin is dry and put some absorbent material in there (like burlap or an old towel) to absorb any condensation that might occur before covering. Secure the cover to withstand windy wintry conditions.
If you have an above-ground fountain pool, open the drain and make sure it remains clear by checking it often so the pool does not hold water. If there is no drain, you’ll need to cover it with a tight, waterproof cover that won’t sag and leak over the course of the winter. If you have an in-ground fountain pool, place a bucket weighted down with rocks or a log in the pool; as water freezes and expands, it will crush the immersed objects before cracking the pool and will help keep the pool from freezing solid. If you need help closing your fountain or need a reinforced based for your statuary before winter, please give us a call to arrange for an on-site visit by one of our technicians who can help you prepare your garden treasures for the winter months.
Sturdy planters such as high-fired terra cotta, iron, concrete and lead can be left in place on a frost-proof base as long as there is a drainage hole to allow water to escape. If a pot or planter has no drainage hole, turn it upside down or cover the top to prevent water and snow from accumulating inside. Some spacers under the bottom of the container to keep it slightly raised off the ground or base are important to allow for proper drainage and prevent the bottom from freezing to the ground. Prior to a snow storm, be sure to remove debris or leaves which may have accumulated beneath your planter. We offer a great selection of decorative pot feet and plant stands to help keep valuable pots up off the ground. Pottery sealer works well to protect porous planters and statuary. This easy-to-use spray helps seal materials like terra cotta and stone so they won’t absorb as much moisture which can cause cracking when left outside in freezing temperatures.
Statuary that lives outdoors all winter also needs some attention before freezing weather arrives. The kindest thing you can do for your statuary is make sure it is resting on a frost-proof base, not just sitting directly on the ground. A statue that is resting directly on unprepared earth runs the risk of falling over when the ground shifts during freezes and thaws. A frost-proof base is a well-prepared site that has been dug down below the frost line and backfilled with crushed stone for proper drainage. A slab of slate or a flat rock can be set on top of the crushed stone to provide an even surface for the statue to stand on. Make sure the statue is secure to ensure safety. Inspect the surface of the statue for any cracks and make arrangements for repair. If water penetrates a crack and gets trapped, it can expand and cause damage to your statue when it freezes. Pottery sealer can help protect porous statues from absorbing damaging moisture.
The subzero temperatures of this past winter were also very hard on many of our most-beloved perennials and shrubs. Hydrangeas seemed especially hard-hit, and it’s disheartening when one bad winter wipes out a decades-old landscape favorite. Do a little preemptive damage control, and perhaps you can avoid losing your favorite plants if we’re faced with another extreme winter. Once the ground freezes, you can provide a little extra protection for these plants by covering them with a blanket of mulch or composted leaves. This will provide insulation and may prevent them from heaving out of the ground during freeze and thaw cycles. For shrubs, many gardeners have had good success by applying anti-dessicants to the leaves of ornamental evergreens to prevent them from drying out over the winter.