10 critical gardening tips for the winter

Gardening in the winter can be very challenging to some, especially those in colder climates. With some planning and preparation, however, you won’t necessarily have to stop gardening altogether during the winter. Depending on where you live, you can still have a thriving garden during the colder months.
If you love gardening all year, try these gardening tips to see which ones will work for you.
1. Know your zone
This is probably the most important tip to winter gardening. Check which plant hardiness zone you live in to see what grows best in your area during the winter. Plenty of websites and resources exist to find this information, such as the US Department of Agriculture's plant hardiness zone map.
2. Mulch the ground
Mulch can keep soil warm enough so roots and bulbs stay warm and don’t die during the cold months. A few inches of mulch over soil should do the job. Mulch is also inexpensive and can last a long time, so it's good to keep some handy.
3. Check for weeds
Weeds may grow in your garden, especially if it gets warm. These seeds are usually the first to grow when it gets warmer, so pull them out as soon as they sprout. This will also get the garden ready for spring planting because by the time winter is over, there hopefully won't be too many weeds around.
4. Bulbs
If you can get away with leaving bulbs outside during the winter, go for it. If not, bring them indoors during this time of year. Put bulbs in a dry and dark place until the weather warms up and they are ready to be planted outside.
5. Cover up perennials
Perennials need to be covered so they continue to grow during the winter. Use fabric so that the plant can still benefit from the air around it. Try not to cover it with plastic because this can do more harm than good.
6. Grow vegetables carefully
If you love growing vegetables and don’t want to stop during the cold season, there are plenty of vegetables that thrive during this time of year. Broccoli, baby carrots, spinach and turnips are just some of the vegetables that thrive in colder climates. Check which plant hardiness zone you live in to see what grows best in your area.
7. Time to prune
Winter is a great time to prune plants because many have entered dormancy at this point. Pruning encourages regrowth, so if you want a particular plant to re-bloom with flowers, pruning is a must. Regular utility scissors can work with smaller plants, but you should invest in pruning shears for bigger ones. Do your homework to see which plants benefit most from pruning and to find out how far back to cut them.
8. Shrubs and trees
If you recently planted new trees and shrubs, they need to be covered. Burlap works well because it will protect plants from frost. Remember to remove the burlap when it gets above freezing or the plants will start to grow before spring.
9. Other winter-friendly plants
If you enjoy color in the garden during these dreary months, there are plants besides vegetables that grow well in winter. Witch hazel, honeysuckle and winter hazel are shrubs that thrive in the cold. Plant these early enough so that they grow in time.
10. Attract birds
It's possible to attract birds to your garden during the winter with a little planning. Keep food, water and nesting houses outside to keep feathered friends coming back to the garden.

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