Raking up leaves is part of your final garden cleanup

Temperatures are dropping and snowstorms are rolling through. Before you go into hibernation mode for the winter, do one final garden cleanup to end the growing season.

On a day when the snow and ice have cleared away for a moment, take a walk around your garden. If there are places where leaves have fallen, rake them up and add them to a compost pile. If you leave them where they are, it can damage the lawn by encouraging mold and other diseases to attack your grass when it is covered by snow and ice. This will also help enrich your garden next year since you can add back nutrients with the resulting compost.

If you have spring- or summer-flowering bulbs with dead leaves, you can now safely remove them to tidy up their appearance. Until they turn brown, foliage should be left even after it has stopped flowering to allow the bulb to store up food for the following year. This will also help the plant stay healthier since dead foliage can become hosts for diseases and pests that like to overwinter.

You can also do some pruning on many species of deciduous trees and shrubs once they have gone dormant for the winter. It is especially helpful that they have lost their leaves as this fact makes it easier to see problems and correct them. Do not prune evergreens as they do not fully go dormant.

Have you done a final garden cleanup yet? What other tasks do you include?

Image by sonstroem under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License