The temperature is dipping below zero at night, the geese are heading south, people are wondering where their snow shovels have got to, and the leaves are falling, so it’s time for the last gardening column of the year. Let’s get to your questions!
About those leaves. What’s the easiest way to deal with them? A rake or a leaf-blower.
But raking takes a lot of work; and I’ve never figured out the deal with leaf-blowers. Don’t they just move the leaves somewhere else? I believe that’s the point. It’s up to you to decide if your neighbour who doesn’t have a birch tree will question where all those birch leaves on his lawn came from. You can also just ignore them and wait for snow to cover them up for the winter. Out of sight, out of mind.
What about pruning? How do I know which trees and bushes need to be pruned now, and which should wait until spring? The best thing to do is hire a trained arborist, who will be able to advise and assist you.
We’ve already established that I’m cheap. Ah yes, I’d forgotten. Well, you could figure out what trees and bushes you have in your yard, then go online, look them up, and see what the pruning advice is.
I’m also lazy. Fair enough. In that case, get out there with a pair of garden shears and have fun. Just think of all the surprises you’ll have come spring!
What should I do with any garden beds filled with plants that I want to protect against the snow? The advice is to cover them in a layer of straw or hay. Before you can say it: yes, I know you’re cheap. So here’s a thought: rake your leaves into the garden beds.
But I’d still have to deal with the leaves in the spring. True. With luck, however, they’ll have turned into nourishing mulch over the winter, which you can then dig into your garden. Win-win!
What should I do with my dead and dying annuals? You can harvest them for seeds, which can be kept in a cool, dark place over the winter and then planted indoors next spring, providing you with an inexpensive start to next year’s garden.
This sounds like work. It is, which is why in your case I’d suggest you just toss them out (if you haven’t already) and start again fresh next year.
Is it too early to put up the Christmas lights? Absolutely not. In fact, this is an ideal time to put up Christmas lights, while the weather is still fine and before the snow falls. Alternatively, you can wait until the first week of December and do it then. It all depends on your tolerance for cold and/or frostbite.
You mentioned snow shovels above. Any early tips for when it’s time to use them? I’ll be answering your snow shovelling questions when the white stuff starts to fall, but here’s an early tip: if you know someone on your street who owns a snow blower, now is the time to start currying favour with them, either through kind words or generous actions. Offering to rake their leaves would be a good start… .