Finishing up the garden chores

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

As we enter Thanksgiving week and the holiday season, I am very grateful for having a few nice days to finish up in the yard and garden.

It was finally warm enough on Wednesday to wrap up and store my hoses for the winter. I had them outside, ready to go to storage, but wrapping a frozen or cold hose is like trying to wrap a stick around your arm.

Once wrapped or rolled the hoses into a circle, I use zip ties to keep them nice and neat and store them in the garage. This keeps hoses lasting longer. I have some hoses that I have had for more than 15 years.

They were quality Flexogen hoses in the first place so that helps. However, storing them inside a shelter during the winter prevents cracks in the rubber and helps them to last longer.

I also had a chance to pull out the rest of my annuals that were looking rough as well as cut back any perennials that needed to be cut.

That said, I know you are seeing a lot on social media suggesting that you leave the woody stems for our native bees to overwinter in. And to let the leaves stay on the ground for the winter to protect other insects, etc.

First, don’t feel guilty if you have already cut back your woody perennials. Just keep this in mind for next year. Secondly, you don’t have to leave all your perennials standing for the winter. And finally, don’t leave a mass of unchopped leaves on your lawn or there may be problems next season.

If you have a large perennial bed, as I do, you may not have time in the spring, with everything happening suddenly in the garden, to catch up with cutting back perennials. Therefore, cut back what you need to, and leave a few of the woody stems for the pollinators.

I tend to leave my coneflowers for both the birds and the pollinators. I cut some of the woody stems and tucked them back under the shrubs in the perennial garden. The rest go to the compost pile.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

My husband mows the grass and chops up the leaves, leaving them on the lawn to decompose. I don’t worry about the leaves in the flower beds until spring, unless there are masses, and they are matted down on top of perennials.

Fortunately, I have black locusts that have small leaves. I never clean these out and they end up breaking down and adding organic matter in my beds.

The final winter preparation chore that I completed this week was to sharpen all my tools, including shovels. Apply linseed oil to wooden handles and clean up your tools so they are ready for spring.

I have one more chore, which will come in the next couple of weeks. I have a few spring-blooming bulbs to get in the ground. Then I am finished!

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at

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