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Dig Right Minute

All good things come to an end, and that includes the warm-weather growing season. As temperatures fall and days grow shorter, the lawn and garden need a little TLC before winter’s arrival. From cutbacks to covering and from digging in to pulling out, there are plenty of ways to ensure a healthy garden next year.

One look at your lawn and garden after this season (much of it dry), and you can see that it’s time to tend to your outdoor spaces before the cold weather sets in our area. Now is a great time to begin preparing your garden for winter.

  • Remove any old annuals from containers and dispose of them.
  • Cut back diseased or dead parts of perennials. It’s also a good time to trim back overgrowth.
  • Clean out containers that aren’t being used for hardy fall plants and bring them inside a garage, shed or other area. This is especially important for containers that could break or crack with high winds and below-freezing temperatures.
  • As long as you’re raking or collecting leaves anyway, make good use them by using shredded or chopped leaves for mulch. That will protect soil and other delicate areas and actually provide nourishment as the material breaks down.
  • If you have low-growing bushes like roses or delicate or new shrubs and trees, you can guard them against the harsh effects of snow and subzero temperatures by surrounding them with mesh or chicken wire and filling the area between with leaf mulch.
  • You can cut your grass through late fall, as long as it’s is growing. Fall – at least the time before the first few hard frosts -- is also a good time for seeding areas that are patchy or thin. Once it’s time to stop mowing, use up or run out the gasoline in the mower.
  • By the end of October or the beginning of November, run extra water out of your house by hanging it up. Once all excess water is out, coil it up and bring it inside a shed, garage or other protected area.
  • Save yourself some time next spring and summer by sharpening or replacing garden tools and equipment now!

Don’t forget to contact JULIE before you dig! Whenever you’re disturbing the ground, especially when planting trees, shrubs, groundcovers or plants, be safe and call JULIE at 811 or enter your request online using E-Request. It’s free and crucial to avoid hitting underground lines, even in areas where you assume it’s safe to dig.

Dig Right Minute
by Tony Abruscato
Director, Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Sponsored in part by JULIE, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show presents realistic and DIY solutions to inspire, educate and motivate gardening enthusiasts and newbies alike, all year long.  The show blooms at Navy Pier from March 14-18, 2018.