Start your garden cleanup to get it winter-ready and you’ll be doing less work come spring, as well as doing your part for the environment.  Here are a few tips for getting your garden cleanup into gear.


Mulch and Compost
The most environmentally-friendly way of dealing with fallen leaves is to mulch and then, if desired, to compost them.  Using your lawnmower’s mulcher not only saves you from raking and bagging, but provides free mulch and compost for your garden.

Once mulched, spread a layer at least 16 cm deep on top of your vegetable garden, flower beds, and even your lawn.  The worms will mix it in!  Mulching will help the soil retain moisture, protect it from heat, cold and wind, and also inhibit the growth of weeds.

Deposit any remaining leaf mulch into your compost bin.  Making compost from your leaf mulch is a longer, more complicated endeavour.  It requires the addition of organic material such as kitchen waste, which then needs to be mixed, watered and turned over in order for the material to decompose over time.  The result is a nutrient-rich humus that will feed a thriving garden.

Eco-friendly cleanup
Start from the top by removing dead limbs from trees before heavy winter snow weakens them, causing further damage to your property.  Prune hedges and overgrown bushes and cut back anything that touches your house walls.

Clear your vegetable garden by digging out old plants and shriveled vines.  Add them to your compost and till the plot well.  Top with several inches of compost and cover with mulch.  In your flower garden, discard spent annuals and pooped-out perennials.  You can save the seeds of annuals in an envelope and store in a cool, dark place to plant in the spring.

For the Birds
There’s no need to cut back on everything in your garden, making it look severe and barren.  Many plants look great until a serious frost, and it’s good to leave some stalks and vegetation for the birds.  Clean out birdhouses and scrub birdbaths with baking soda and cleaning vinegar.  Vinegar is safer than bleach and any residue will not harm birds or surrounding grass or plants.

A simple fall cleanup will protect your garden during winter, and give your little pocket of nature a head start in spring!