Putting newly planted perennial garden to bed for winter
We planted a perennial garden this spring and wondered how to best prepare it to winter over successfully.
Hennepin County Minnesota
Once the plants have gone dormant (either when they're completely dry or after the first frost) you can cut them back to the ground. Alternatively you can leave them up until spring to add some winter interest and food for birds.
Add mulch to your garden, depending on what remains for the beginning of the summer, ideally you want about 2-3 inches. This will help protect the roots from winter damage. You also want to do this after the first frost. Another option is to just cover tender perennials. We often have enough snow cover (poor mans mulch) to insulate most of our gardens.
Remove any diseased plants and leaf litter and remove weeds at this time. This is really key if you had any problems with insect pests - a lot of unwanted insects lay their eggs in leaf litter, like four lined plant bugs for instance. IF you had an issue with that over the summer, remove the leaf litter, if not, it's fine to leave most of it in the garden.
If you have any shrubs, you will want to protect them from rabbits or deer. A chicken wire cage around shrubs is a great, low cost solution.