Maintaining the health and aesthetic beauty of your garden in the cold winter months can be challenging. There’s a lot of crucial preparation that goes into protecting your garden against the harsh below-freezing temperatures, precipitation, and ice formations that can completely freeze up your beloved plants. Additionally, you also need to find a feasible and effective solution to keeping your soil nourished during a time of the year when it’s at the highest risk for aridity. To properly prepare your garden for the winter season, mulching in the fall before the first frost hits is essential.
When Should You Apply Mulch to Prepare for Winter?
The answer to this question varies greatly depending primarily on where you live and when you can expect the first snowfall in your area. Residents of northern parts of Ontario would benefit greatly from mulching their gardens sometime around the end of October or beginning of November as this is the time of year when they tend to experience the first hints of snow. However, people living in Toronto and the GTA don’t technically have to worry about applying their fall mulch until sometime in the middle to the end of November.
The whole point of mulching is to protect your soil and enrich it throughout the winter season when it’ll be completely blanketed in snow and unable to absorb moisture and nourishment from other sources. Mulch contains a lot of essential nutrients that can help keep your soil alive and well throughout the year even in the most inclement weather conditions.
However, even if the forecast doesn’t call for heavy snowfalls or precipitation this year, you should still apply a layer of mulch to your soil because the constant exposure to cold temperatures can dry it out and disable it from absorbing and harbouring its natural nutrients. Mulching locks in moisture and nutrients that your soil needs to survive while also maintaining a healthy temperature to prevent it from freezing over.
Types of Organic Mulches for Winter
As many people know, the stereotype about Canadian winters is absolutely true. They can be harsh, freezing, and sometimes completely unpredictable. This type of unpredictability can also make it difficult to maintain the health and moisture levels in your soil. Applying an appropriate layer of winter mulch can help stabilize the ground temperatures for your soil while still providing the nutrients it requires.
Remember that different plants and flowerbeds require different types of mulches and some of these organic combinations also serve as essential food sources to earthworms, microbes, and other important creatures that improve the health of your soil and plants.
With that said, here’s a list of organic mulches that are appropriate for Canadian winters:
- Pine and evergreen branches
- Hay and straw mixtures
- Shredded leaves
- Wood shavings or chips
- Yard waste such as grass clippings
- Newspaper combined with leaves and sawdust
Most mulch combinations have the advantage of quickly decomposing so that you don’t have to remove them yourself. However, this can also be slightly problematic because it also means they need to be replaced frequently, which can be difficult after you’ve already gotten snow on the ground.
That’s why you might also want to consider investing in reliable snow removal services that are offered by prominent gardening and landscaping companies in the GTA. FOREVER GREEN LAWN & LANDSCAPE INC. offers these services and many more.
Benefits of Winter Mulching
One of the main benefits of mulching to prepare for winter is the fact that organic materials such as the ones mentioned above can help protect your soil from damage caused by harsh weather conditions and below freezing temperatures. Neutralizing the temperature of your soil will prevent it from completely freezing up and losing its ability to absorb nutrients. Here are a few other reasons you should mulch your outdoor space this fall:
Provides Excellent Weed and Pest Control
While there are certain critters such as ants, beetles, earthworms, and larger animals like rabbits that are good for your soil, there are other pests that can actually devalue it by eating away at its nutrients. In the landscaping industry, these are known as pests. Cucumber beetles, grubs, and fleas are amongst a long list of pests that only serve to extract nutrients from your precious soil and plants for their own purposes. A thick layer of mulch blocks many of these pests from penetrating the surface and reaching your soil.
Applying a layer of weed barrier directly beneath your mulch will help strengthen its ability to prevent weeds from growing. Before starting the mulching process, however, you should make sure to pull out any and all weeds from your garden without leaving even a single one behind. Even the slightest remnant of a weed is enough to spread the seeds to the rest of your garden. That’s why the saying “spreading like weeds” exists.
Maintains Moisture Levels and Temperature of Soil
By acting as a layer of protection against colder temperatures and precipitation, mulch actively helps maintain the warmer temperature of your soil. Controlled temperatures in turn help the soil retain the right amount of moisture to help it survive through the winter months.
Facilitates Stronger Soil Structure
Thanks in large part to the fact that mulching creates a healthy environment for good soil inhabitants to thrive and conduct their natural business, this means that the internal structure of your soil will be stronger. Animals and critters that burrow through the soil establish necessary tunnel-like systems throughout your soil that allow for the roots of your plants to expand. This natural process also aerates the soil from within and allows it to breathe and function more effectively.
If you need assistance with choosing and applying the right type of mulch to your garden before the onset of winter, then FOREVER GREEN LAWN & LANDSCAPE INC. can help. We have over 20 years of experience beautifying and caring for commercial and residential outdoor spaces throughout Toronto and the GTA. All of our staff are expertly trained to handle state-of-the-art landscaping tools and answer all of your questions. To learn more about our services or schedule a consultation, please feel free to contact us today!
Related Readings: Why You Should Use Organic Mulch