Squak Talk Blog

Five tips to winterize your garden

The fallen bounty of your winter leaves may be used in many wonderful ways. Use your lawn mower to collect the leaves and finely chop them. They will break down and decompose more quickly if they are in finer pieces. The leaves will decompose over winter and become well aged compost to improve your soil tilth.


  1. Sprinkle the chopped leaves between plants in existing garden beds for a 1-2” layer of mulch. (Be certain the soil is wet first.) Lightly hand toss a sprinkling of organic fertilizer over the leaves. Wet the leaves. Till the leaf mulch into the soil in spring.


  1. Make your own compost by adding the chopped leaves and grass clippings to your backyard compost bin.


  1. Pit compost the leaves: Dig a hole about 18” deep between plants in an existing garden. Layer in chopped up leaves, coffee grounds and tea bags, bits of vegetable and fruit peelings etc from the kitchen, and more leaves. Shovel the soil back into the hole and tamp down. Let the worms come in to do their job.


  1. Sheet mulch (see below) your vegetable garden to improve the planting depth and enrich the organic matter in your soil for next spring’s planting.


  1. Sheet mulch a grassy or weedy area to prepare a new plant bed for planting next spring.


Sheet Mulching

1. Wet the soil and then lay down wet pieces of cardboard to kill weeds and grass.             (Omit this step to sheet mulch a vegetable garden.)

2.  Add 12” of chopped up leaves and wet thoroughly.

3.  Sprinkle about a cup of organic fertilizer on the wet leaves for a 10’ x 10’ area

4.  Tarp over the leaves and place bricks or rocks on the edges of the tarp to hold it down.

5.  In the spring remove the tarp and till the leaves into the soil for a newly prepared plant bed.


  • And don’t forget to winterize your fountains and bird baths! As we get colder a winter freeze might be hard enough to cause freezing damage if frozen water expands in the basins or pipes.

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