The Gardener’s Rake Weekly tip: November 3, 2008

As winter tries to creep in there are still a few gardening chores that need to be done. If you haven’t planted the last of your perennials and shrubs you need to get that done this week. At least you do in NW PA. America's Choice, H.C. Anderson Floribunda Rose (Rosa)  'POUlander'
Creative Commons License photo credit: cliff1066

It’s also important to cover garden areas and around plants and shrubs to protect the ground. If the frost gets into the ground too deeply around newly planted plants, shrubs and trees the frost will either damage the roots or raise the plant out of the ground. A ground cover will also keep the soil moist and soft and help with earlier plantings for the next garden season.

Compost, straw, and mulch are some of the best ground covers for the winter. I use compost around plants that need a boost of nutrients, straw around established plants, shrubs and trees. Mulch is used more for older trees and problem areas in the yard.

Here are a few ideas for getting ground covers for free or very cheap.

  • Make you own compost from grass clipping, straw, leaves and table scraps.
  • Call your local township for free leaves.
  • Mulch can often be found for free at parks, from tree companies or local townships
  • Farms often have old straw or damaged bales that they will give to you or sell for a discount.

It’s always nice to save money for landscaping and gardening when you can. It’s money you can use for new plants and other landscaping plans.

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