The Benefits of Winter on Your Garden
For many people, the winter means dropping temperatures, snowstorms, and a frosty garden. While evergreen plants and some animals will continue to grow and thrive in the cold and the snow, stereotypically, one may assume that the winter means their garden will struggle and suffer. As a matter of fact, the winter is very beneficial to your garden, and there are many plants that can still survive and thrive even in the harshest seasonal weather. Without the winter, growing a healthy garden in the spring might not be as easy as it sounds.
Benefits of Snow
During the winter, the soil and the plants within it are at risk of being damaged by the cold. However, the presence of snow still benefits the plants and soil in a couple of ways.
For starters, the snow makes the soil insulated. While it may be freezing outside, under the snow, the cold isn’t as intense. This means that any plants that got covered by snow will, ironically, be more protected from the weather than if they hadn’t been covered. This is especially important for regions where the temperature swings can be unexpected and steep, as the insulation makes the temperature changes less extreme and sudden.
The snow also helps your soil retain its moisture, which can be difficult in cold weather. This happens in two ways. First, snow will eventually melt and turn into groundwater. Second, the snow keeps the current moisture in place without letting it freeze over or dry out. As a result, once spring finally rolls around, your garden should be moist enough to grow plants in.
Benefits of Cold
Winter’s not just about snow and ice. The cold weather, while potentially harmful, can also do a lot of good for your soil and plants. Soil can’t be used forever. The cold allows the soil a chance to rest, while dead plants will eventually return to the earth and decay, replenishing the soil’s nutrients and creating a fertile ground for new plants. Additionally, some plants are adapted to survive in cold weather and need colder temperatures in order to thrive properly. Many cold-weather plants have seeds that need to exist in freezing temperatures before they can germinate in the spring. Others are fully capable of growing or staying alive in winter.
Should it Stay or Go?
Having these native wintertime plants around will not only make your garden beautiful, but they’ll also help any animals that still need food in the winter by supplying them with seeds and leaves to eat. The foliage also functions as a helpful shelter for these critters. Finally, planting things in the winter can help your soil by offering new nutrients and providing more plant matter for compost later. Here are three we suggest:
1. The southern magnolia is a hardy type of evergreen with glossy leaves and the ability to stay in your garden all year long.
2. Witch hazel is a flowering shrub that can bloom in winter if the weather is mild, and the petals will furl up when it gets cold to protect the plant.
3. Hydrangeas, such as the native smooth-leaf hydrangea, will often retain their beautiful flowers in the winter, making them a staple of any wintertime garden.
Contact Vibrant Outdoors