A lawn covered in morning frost.

What You Can Do for Your Landscape This Winter

Going outside to take care of your landscape this winter won’t only help plants handle the cold weather better, but it may also help you beat winter blues. So consider adding these seven activities to your winter to-do list.

Is It Okay to Landscape in Winter?

You might wonder whether or not to landscape in winter, considering the snow and cold weather. Actually, winter landscape maintenance is crucial. Winter landscaping is mainly about maintenance since it’s not ideal to plant during this season. So, the best thing you can do at this time of year is to protect your lawn and plants in the garden from damaging cold weather. With proper maintenance, your lawn will bounce back more easily in the spring.

Winter landscaping also helps improve the appearance of your lawn and garden. During this time, you’ll often only see a drab palette of white, gray, and brown because most plants go dormant. You can plant winter-blooming bulbs or fruit-bearing shrubs to add colors to your landscape.

What Can You Do for Your Landscape in Winter?

The winter landscape activities in this list will help make your landscape look a little less drab in winter and prevent the weather from wreaking havoc on your lawn and mood.

1. Start a Compost Pile for Your Garden

Composting is great for your garden and the environment. You won’t have to send food scraps, fallen leaves, and other organic materials to landfills, and you can add essential nutrients to your backyard soil. If you don’t have a compost pile yet, winter is a great time to create one. Don’t worry about the cold because the microbes, which break down organic matter, can survive in compost piles even when the temperature drops. It means decomposition continues even when the compost freezes temporarily.

The composting process is pretty straightforward. You’ll only need an animal-proof container and kitchen waste and dead plants. Remember that you need the right mix of “brown” and “green” materials (i.e., carbon-rich matter and nitrogen-rich fresh plant scraps, respectively). After putting compost into your compost bin, turn the pile every few weeks to combine the browns and greens when the temperature remains above zero for a few days.

2. Cover Sensitive Plants With Protective Fabrics

Some plants get easily damaged by frost. You must cover them with protective fabrics to prevent frost damage. But it doesn’t mean you have to cover the plants from the start of the winter. You can do this only when the temperature drops below 2 degrees Celsius, which usually happens overnight.

You can use different materials as plant covering, but fabric is usually the best. It prevents cold air from freezing the moisture on plants and captures the heat radiating from the ground. For larger shrubs and plants, you can use bed sheets. Burlap is also a good option. Never use plastic as a covering because it usually does more harm than good.

Remove blankets or sheets in the morning when it is no longer freezing. If the temperature drops well below freezing, you may need to give the plants an extra heat source. You can add an artificial heat source like traditional light bulbs because LEDs do not give off enough heat.

3. Mulch to Protect Roots from the Cold

Mulching is the process of covering the soil surface with a layer of material, like grass clippings and bark chips. It’s an important winter landscaping activity as it helps prevent a common winter problem called soil heaving. Ground or soil heave is when the underlying soil layer moves upward due to the addition of moisture, pushing and exposing the plant’s roots and crowns to freezing temperatures.

Applying the right mulch to your lawn helps maintain a consistent soil temperature in the root zone so plants don’t freeze easily. Mulch also suppresses weeds and reduces soil erosion. But don’t leave it for too long, as it can smother the plant and encourage mold growth.

Although replacing mulch sounds like a straightforward task, there are a few things to consider, including mulch amount and depth. It’s also crucial to ensure the area is weed-free before applying mulch. Also, do not mulch seedlings planted in moist soils.

4. Move Pots to Sheltered Areas

If you have potted plants, move them to your home, shed, or any sheltered location. It’s the easiest way to protect plants from stress caused by thawing and freezing cycles. If possible, choose a spot that experiences the least temperature swings and cluster your potted plants there. You may also cover the plants with insulating materials to increase their chances of surviving winter temperature fluctuations.

5. Plant Winter-Blooming Bulbs for Color

Winter landscapes typically look pale compared to other seasons when colors and textures are abundant. If you’re wondering, “How can I make my backyard look nice in the winter?” consider planting winter-blooming bulbs like daffodils, crocus, and tulips. These winter-blooming bulbs can endure the bitter cold and don’t usually need as much care. They require trimming only once every few weeks during winter.

6. Prune Plants, Shrubs, and Trees

Pruning trees and other foliage in your garden is a crucial winter landscaping activity not just for aesthetic reasons. It is also important for your safety, as dying tree branches may fall to your property or injure someone.

Pruning also helps trees grow. You can remove diseased, damaged, or dead branches at any time of the year. However, most trees benefit from pruning in winter because their growth slows down during this season. There are also fewer diseases and bugs that can affect the plant’s wound closure.

7. Keep Bird Feeders Stocked

During the winter, birds searching for natural food sources like bugs have to work more diligently to find the nourishment they need. If you’re a bird lover wanting to help these feathered friends survive the harsh season, don’t forget to fill your bird feeders. Ensure you provide high-energy food. Also, check on your bird feeders regularly, especially after a storm. Additionally, you should frequently remove the accumulated water or snow to keep the feeds from getting moldy.

There are many other things you can do for your landscape this winter aside from what’s on this list. You can work on drainage to ensure your plants and shrubs stay hydrated over the winter. Remove fallen leaves, branches, or debris from your lawn. When melting snow and frozen surfaces, avoid using road salt near trees and foliage.

In terms of winter gardening activities that can help you beat winter blues, you can make winter bouquets, build terrariums, and clean birdhouses.

Get Seasonal Care Tips From the Experts

What you do for your landscape this winter will affect how your yard will look in spring and summer. If you take care of your landscape this season, the grass and plants will be less likely to get damaged, which means you won’t have to spend valuable time and money to make your landscape stunning once again. Spring clean-up will also be easier and faster.

Taking care of your lawn is important if you want a stunning landscape, and LawnMart can help you achieve that. We’ve been taking care of lawns, big and small, all year round for many years, so you can trust the quality of our lawn care services.

If you want to learn more about what we do or get some winter landscaping ideas, please feel free to contact our team.

Michael Schäfer

President – LawnMart Inc.

Years of Experience: 31 Years

  • Land Class 1 and 3 Licenses Since 1993
  • Pest Control Operator License Since 1995
  • PIC Accredited Pest Technician Examiner Since 2004
  • Biting Flies Control License Since 2020

Michael Schäfer is President and Founder of LawnMart Inc. After training privately under Dr. Larry Whiddell of Ohio State University, he became a Lawn Technician at Barefoot Grass Lawn Services (1993) and leveled up to Tree/Shrub Care Manager before taking over all Canadian operations as Area Manager. In 1996, Michael founded LawnMart Inc., which has since grown into a multi-award-winning company that cares for thousands of lawns in the Golden Horseshoe area.