Prepare for Winter in Your Sierra Garden

  • Plant spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips and daffodils from September in the high country through December in the lower foothills.
  • Rake leaves and dispose of them, preferably in a compost heap. Failing to rake leaves can result in dying or diseased lawn.
  • Pull annual flowers and vegetables felled by frost. Put in compost heap. If you suspect disease, throw them in the garbage.
  • Cut almost to the ground any perennials whose foliage has become unsightly.
  • Weed. Fall action prevents weeds from getting a head start next spring, saving work in the long run
  • Dig up tender bulbs. Store in vermiculite in a paper bag in a Cool, dry spot.
  • Apply mulch to perennials where winter temperatures fall below minus 10 degrees. Use a lightweight organic mulch, such as shredded autumn leaves, pine needles or straw. Avoid compact mulches or whole leaves which can suffocate plants.
  • Protect broad-leaved evergreens such as rhododendrons and holly with an anti desiccant spray to prevent water loss.
  • Water evergreens and small trees and shrubs if the fall weather is especially dry.
  • Dig up small annuals and herbs and plant them in pots to spend the winter in a sunny window inside.

Don’t prune or fertilize plants at the end of their seasons. Either could promote tender new growth that will get nipped by the cold. The exception is trimming out dead or damaged branches or foliage.