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How To Prepare Your Garden For Winter

Jen prepares her garden for fall

Summer always seems to fly by in the blink of an eye and before you know it, it’s time to prepare your garden for winter. By dedicating some clean-up and preparation time in your garden now, you will be rewarded in the spring when it’s time to start all over again. Whether you have a small backyard garden or a large field full of flowers and vegetables, now is the time to start winterizing your garden. It can be tempting to save all of this work for spring. Trust me though, by following these steps now you will have a healthier garden, less bug issues, and more beautiful blooms come spring.

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.”

– Oscar Wilde

Welcome To Our Fall Garden Blog Hop!

I’m so excited to be joining my good friends in the Fabulous Fall Garden Tour. Today’s Fall Garden Tour is hosted by my sweet garden friend, Stacy Link of Bricks N’ Blooms. If you are stopping by from J Dub By Design, welcome to my home and garden. Also, make sure you head on over to see Cottage on Bunker Hill after you finish reading my blog post on how to prepare your garden for winter.

fall garden tour

When to Prepare Your Garden For Winter

If you are wondering when to prepare your garden for winter, I recommend aiming to get your garden cleaned up prior to your first average snowfall. For some plants like dahlias, you may prefer to wait to dig up their tubers until the first hard frost (although this isn’t necessary). You can find your hardiness zone by visiting the USDA Plant Hardiness Map and entering your zip code. 

USDA Plant Hardiness map showing how to know when to prepare your garden for winter
USDA Plant Hardiness Map Is Helpful For Knowing When To Prepare Your Garden For Winter

How Knowing Your Growing Zone Will Help You Prepare Your Garden For Winter

The Flowering Farmhouse is located in Hood River, Oregon and our flower field is in zone 7B. Some things I share in this blog post may or may not apply to your growing zone. I recommend that you find out your hardiness zone so you can make informed decisions about your garden. If you want to find out your historical first and last frost dates, you can also visit The Old Farmer’s Almanac by clicking here. Keep in mind that this is a historical average so some years you may find your growing season to be shorter or longer. 

My average first frost date is October 3rd and this year we are having a historically warm fall. I am definitely taking full advantage of it and enjoying every last bloom I can. This is also a great time for propagating plants, planting new plants, and cleaning up the garden.

Map Out Your Garden 

Before your first frost kills off your annual plants, now is the time to map out your garden. Creating a map before a killing frost allows you to actually identify all of your plants. It is important to map out your garden so that you know and remember what you planted where. Some plants can be replanted in the exact same spot year after year. While other plants benefit from crop rotation. Nutrients in the soil will start to get depleted from your plants. For example, you should rotate the location of your tomatoes every year.

When mapping out your garden, take note of growing conditions such as light, wind, water, etc. You may find that you have some plants that need to be relocated. This is also a good time to decide what other plants you might have room or want to grow next season.

When To Harvest Your Garden To Prepare Your Garden For Winter

harvesting fall flowers is part of preparing your garden for winter
Jen from The Flowering Farmhouse harvesting amaranth and sunflowers.

If you haven’t had a killing frost yet, now is the time to harvest your garden. I always savor my last blooms of the season knowing that I won’t have fresh flowers in the house for months. Be sure to harvest as many vegetables and flowers as you can at the end of the season. 

When To Harvest Your Vegetable Garden

Usually in the beginning of October I start removing my vegetable garden. By this time of year I’m battling so many aphids, white flies, and powdery mildew that I’m ready to be done with the veggies. I harvest as many zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins etc. as I can. Then, once I’m done harvesting, I pull the plants. If I find myself with an abundance of tomatoes, I will typically clean them off and freeze them for wintertime. I love fall baking and find myself freezing as much shredded zucchini as possible so I can make zucchini bread over the winter.

How To Cure Pumpkins & Squash To Prepare For Winter

harvest pumpkins in the fall

Pumpkins and squash need to be cured if you plan to store them over winter. Cut the stem as long as possible when you harvest pumpkins and squash. After harvesting my pumpkins and squash, I put them in my greenhouse for 10+ days so they can dry out. I usually know that they are done curing when their stems turn brown and are dried out. If you don’t have a greenhouse, make sure you place your pumpkins and/or squash in a dry location for at least two weeks.

When To Harvest Your Flower Garden

Jen from The Flowering Farmhouse harvesting zinnia flowers
Jen from The Flowering Farmhouse harvesting zinnia flowers

For my flower garden, I will continue harvesting as many flowers as I can until our first killing frost. If a plant has really bad powdery mildew or I find that most of the blooms are spent, I will pull that plant sooner. You do not want disease spreading to other plants so sometimes it’s important to pull those plants early. 

Pot Up Any Tender Perennials You Want To Keep For Next Year

For some of my plants like eucalyptus and geraniums, I pot them up and put them in the greenhouse to overwinter. There are many plants that are perennials in some regions and only annuals in others (eucalyptus and geraniums are both that way for me). By potting up these tender perennials, you can bring them inside or into a warmer space so that they can overwinter and grow again next year.

Cut Flowers & Herbs For Drying

dried lavender

Before your first killing frost, it is also a good time to harvest any herbs and flowers you want to dry. I grow most of my herbs in my flower field and use them in bouquets throughout the summer. At the end of the summer, I harvest these herbs for drying. I will be harvesting both basil and oregano to dry and then use for cooking. Other plants that I like to dry include rosemary, lavender, dusty miller, eucalyptus, roses, etc. After drying these, you can have fun arranging them into dried arrangements and wreaths around your home!

Harvest Garden Seeds to Save Seeds For Next Year

Some people like to save their seeds every year. This is a great way to expand your garden without spending more money. When your flowers have died and the petals are all dried up, it’s time to harvest the seeds. Saving seeds does take a little effort, but it can be very rewarding.

For me, I like to save my sunflower, marigold, zinnia, cosmo, honeywort, buplureum, and poppy seeds. Each of these plants produce an abundance of seeds so I only need to save several dried out flowers. I harvest the seeds from the flower petal and then save them in a small seed pouch. I prefer to keep my seeds in a dark location that does not get too warm.

Clean Up Your Garden For Winter

Cleaning up your garden before winter is an important task. This involves raking leaves, cutting back plants, weeding, cleaning bird feeders, and more! While all of this can seem tedious and daunting after a long summer, your future self will thank you come fall. 

Rake Your Leaves And Compost Them To Prepare Your Garden For Winter

prepare your garden for winter by cleaning up leaves

As leaves start to fall, I recommend raking up your leaves vs leaving them on the ground to decompose. If you have a compost bin, you can compost your leaves. Some people use a leaf shredder and then scatter the shredded leaves over their garden beds. Leaves do contain lots of great nutrients for your soil. However, if you leave them alone, they do become a haven for harboring spiders and other insects over winter. Thick piles of leaves left on your grass over winter can actually kill your grass too.

Clean Up The Inside Of Your Greenhouse

prepare your garden for fall by cleaning your greenhouse

If you have a greenhouse, now is the time to get it cleaned up inside. You don’t want any pests or rodents making your greenhouse a home over the winter! I like to take everything out of my greenhouse and give it a good scrubbing. It’s amazing how many spiders find their way into my greenhouse over the summertime. I wash all of my pots and trays before closing up my greenhouse for winter. It’s so nice to be able to have a clean slate when it’s time to start seedlings in late winter.

Clean Your Bird Feeders & Bird Baths

bird on bird feeder

While preparing your garden for winter, don’t forget about the birds! Now is a great time to clean out and wash your bird feeders and baths. Both of these can get pretty grimy inside. Give your bird feeders a deep cleaning to get rid of any mold that may be building up. Be sure to refill those bird feeders with food for the birds! I like to put out peanuts for the blue jays and squirrels. For other birds, I choose a no-mess bird seed mix. If you don’t use a “no-mess” birdseed mix, you will find your garden covered in unwanted seedlings in the fall! If you live in a dry climate, be sure to give the birds some fresh water to drink too!

Cut Back Perennial Foliage To Prepare Your Garden For Winter

Many perennials benefit from being cut back in the fall. For some plants this means just deadheading the spent blooms while other plants need to be cut back to the ground for winter. *If any of your plants are diseased, make sure you throw away the foliage so that disease does not spread in your compost over winter. Some of the perennials that you cut back include: Phlox, Yarrow, Lilies, Bearded Iris, Bee Balm, Catmint, Day Lilies, Peonies, Salvia, Hostas, Astilbe, and Columbine.

You may need to research each variety of plant to make sure you are pruning at the right time. For example, hydrangeas and roses do better when you prune them in late winter or early spring. I try to save my plant tags so I have the instructions for each specific plant on how to care for them.

After You Prepare Your Garden For Winter, Plant Winter Veggies & Bulbs

prepare your garden for winter by planting fall bulbs
Many flower bulbs benefit by being planted in the fall.

Now is the time to plant your winter vegetables and flower bulbs before your first hard frost. It’s also a great time to spruce up your front porch with fall foliage and plants! At our house we like to plant cabbage, kale, radishes, snap peas, and broccoli for a fall vegetable garden. This year I purchased starts from our local nursery as I did not have time to start these winter veggies from seed. You also want to make sure you plant your spring flower bulbs before the first frost. I like to plant peonies, daffodils, tulips, bearded irises, ranunculus, and lilies in the fall. While planting may seem like a lot of work right now, you will be rewarded in the spring when you see your first blooms appear.

Prepare Your Garden For Winter By Making Sure Plants & Trees Are Well Watered

garden hose

If you live in an area that receives little rainfall, it’s important that you make sure your plants and trees are well watered going into winter. Before you pack-up and put away your garden hoses, give your plants and trees one final deep watering. This is especially important with any younger plants that do not have well established root systems. Once you have finished watering your plants for the season, you can wrap up and put away your hoses. Be sure to also cover your outdoor faucets if you live in a growing region that receives temperatures below freezing. You don’t want to experience any pipes breaking or leaking over winter.

Winterize Your Irrigation System To Prepare Your Garden For Winter

garden irrigation sprinkler

Don’t forget to winterize your irrigation system for winter! You do not want to turn your water back on in the spring and find out that you have a cracked pipe from water freezing inside your irrigation lines. This is one step that I do not do myself. I hire a local irrigation company to come and blow out our irrigation lines every year. Our yard and field is watered through an irrigation district and so we only have irrigation water from April through September. As soon as our water shuts off, I call our irrigation company to come out and winterize our irrigation system. This gives me peace of mind knowing that it was done properly and will be ready to go in the spring.

Plan Your Garden For Next Year 

Once you have prepared your garden for winter, it’s time to start thinking about next year! (Ok, so maybe you need a few weeks to kick-back and relax first- that’s ok too!) I recommend using your garden map as a starting point to decide what plants you want to grow next year. Winter is a great time to purchase seeds. Many popular seeds will sell out quickly so don’t wait to buy any seeds you might want. For a list of some of my favorite cut flowers and places to buy seeds, be sure to check out my blog post: Easy To Grow Cut Flowers.

Want More Fall Garden Inspiration And Tips?

I hope this blog post helps you prepare your garden for winter! Don’t forget to also prepare your house for winter with these tips! If you found this helpful, I’d love to hear from you below in the comments. You can also save this blog post for later by pinning this post to Pinterest.

fall garden blog hop
Be sure to visit my garden friends’ fall garden blog posts below!

I’m super excited because I’ve also teamed up with some of my favorite garden bloggers to bring you more fall garden inspiration and tips. Follow the below links to check out my friends’ garden blogs:

The Tattered Pew
My Thrift Store Addiction
Bricks ‘n Blooms
Shiplap and Shells
White Arrows Home
Follow the Yellow Brick Home
Down Shiloh Road 
J Dub By Design
Cottage on Bunker Hill

Other Gardening Blog Posts From The Flowering Farmhouse That You Might Also Enjoy:

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29 Comments

    1. I’m so glad you found these tips helpful! Be sure to pin them to Pinterest so you can easily refer back to them 😉

    1. I’m so glad these were helpful Stacy! Thanks for taking your time to Pin this for later!

    1. Thank you Kim! I’m so glad to hear that you found this post helpful and informative. You have a lovely garden too!

  1. Zone 7 seems like the perfect zone; I’m 5b. I still have so much to take care of out in my garden…and I forgot to buy bulbs again today!!

    1. It is a good zone! I have a ton to still take care of too, including getting my bulbs in the ground.

  2. Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful gardening tips! I pinned this helpful post. Your garden is beautiful and now I want a greenhouse like yours!

    1. Hi Kelly! Thank you for taking the time to PIN this post! I’m glad you found the blog post helpful. My greenhouse is from NW Green Panels and they deliver all over the U.S. It’s definitely nice having a greenhouse!

  3. Wow, this is so helpful. I have a really small garden so I sometimes put in on the backburner, but it’s almost time for our first frost so I’m definitely going to have to take some of these steps. I think the first thing I’lll do is dry my herbs so I can use them all winter!

    1. I’m so glad this was helpful! I just picked my herbs yesterday and have them drying in a closet. Good luck harvesting before your frost!

  4. Wow, who knew there was so much to think about! I’m new to gardening and still just aiming to not kill anything. This is a great list I’ll definitely be referring back to, thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Rachel! Thanks so much for taking your time to leave a comment! Even experienced gardeners kill plants 😉 I’m glad you found this list helpful. Don’t forget to PIN to pinterest so you can easily come back to this post! Have a great day!

    1. I’m so glad these tips were helpful! I have to get busy too, we are expecting a very early snowfall later this week! Happy Gardening!

  5. Wonderful tips! I am enjoying the last of my blooms but I am looking forward to giving the garden a nice clean up before winter.
    I am so happy to discover your blog from this tour!

    Happy fall!

    1. Hi Amber! I’m so glad you came across my blog during this tour! It is so nice to have the garden clean before winter. You will be so much happier come spring! Happy gardening!

    1. I’m so glad that you found these tips helpful! Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment! Good luck preparing your garden for winter!

    1. I’d say that the common mistakes would be not following the tips listed in this article 😉

  6. Your comprehensive guide on preparing the garden for winter is a treasure trove of wisdom! From mapping out the garden to planting winter veggies, you’ve covered it all. Your tips ensure a vibrant and thriving garden come spring. Thanks for sharing your expertise! 🌷🍂

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