Anyone who loves plants or gardening knows that although most plants don’t grow best in the wintertime, that doesn’t mean your job as a gardener is done for a few months! Plants may go dormant but you can’t, since there’s so much to think about and do to prepare your little plants for when the earth warms up again. As you may know, we don’t have much of a garden anymore, but Emily, a sustainability writer with a passion for gardening and cooking, has some fantastic tips for you today if you’re already looking forward to getting your hands dirty. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.

If you’re a newer gardener who isn’t sure what this all means, don’t feel overwhelmed! You don’t need to take a class or read through books to know how to give your garden the best winter treatment possible so it thrives when spring rolls around. Besides researching what you want to grow and daydreaming about how you want to decorate your garden, there’s only four simple things you should do to prepare your garden while the weather is still too cold for plant growth.

1. Cut Out the Old

The saying “out with the old and in with the new” also applies to gardening. If you got the chance to grow something during the previous year and haven’t cleared it out of your garden plot, go ahead and get that started. This will take a different amount of time for people depending on what you grew last. Some roots will need to be shoveled out and some can be easily plucked from the dirt. The goal is to get a cleared section of dirt so it’s aired out and ready to go when you start planting seeds in the spring.


2. Apply Insecticides

It may seem backward to apply pest control when you don’t have any plants to protect, but it actually helps in the long run. Using a systemic insecticide for your garden before you plant will allow the soil to soak up the insect repellant and help the roots to absorb it that much faster in the spring. Making sure your plants are protected from the beginning is just one of the strategies to control spring pests, and it’s the best one you can do during the winter.


3. Mulch Properly

Even if you’re preparing a new garden, you can’t forget about the plants that are still thriving during the winter. You may not need to water them much, but they still need protection from the cold. It’s ideal to wait until after the ground freezes to mulch. For your active plants, consider getting new mulch and spreading it out to help with temperature fluctuations. Mulch insulates the roots and keeps the soil temperature evened out, so your plants don’t get shocked by the weather.


4. Get Your Toolbox Out

The last thing you should include on your list is repairing anything that might need fixing from the previous growing season. Things like plant labels and garden decorations can get worn and faded from the weather, so look into fixing or replacing them. If this is your first garden, you should also look into how to install an easy fence so you can avoid problems with the local small animals once your plants start to bloom.

The cold weather may make you feel like staying inside by the fireplace with a cozy mug of coffee, but don’t forget about your garden! Whether you’re just starting one this spring or you’ve got an old one filled with the leftovers from the previous growing season, it’s time to prep your garden for the future. It’ll make everything easier on yourself and your plants when you’re ready to sow those seeds and prevent you from dealing with any avoidable issues like pests.