1. Protect your plants: Road salt wreaks havoc on plants and soil. In areas of heavy salt use, soil salinity rises and vital soil life can be affected, not to mention all those tender plant roots and evergreen foliage that simply can’t tolerate being exposed to salt on a regular basis. Protect roadside plantings from salt spray with a shield of landscape fabric erected into a fence with wooden stakes. For planting areas adjacent to walks and drives, choose salt-resistant plants or rely on salt-free ice melters, like calcium chloride or magnesium chloride, instead.
2. Build a compost bin: Pay a winter visit to your local garden center and ask them for some used wooden pallets to make yourself a new compost bin. Many garden centers are happy to get rid of extra pallets and some may even arrange to deliver them to your door. Once the pallets are home, use them to build one or more three-sided bins. Use extra large plastic zip-ties to fasten them together, giving each bin a back and two sides. Locate your new composting system in a mostly sunny site, and you’ll be up to your elbows in ‘black gold’ before you know it.
3. Get rid of dead tree: Okay, this garden tip is for an expert, but you can supervise! Winter is an excellent time to have a troublesome or dangerous tree removed from your property. With no foliage to cloud their work, many arborists are more than happy to cut down trees that have to go at this time of year.
4. Keep an eye on winter crops: Year-round veggie gardeners need to keep an eye on their season extenders, removing snow from cold frames and mini hoop tunnels after a storm. If heavy snow is allowed to accumulate, it blocks sunlight from reaching the crops, but it can also damage the structures. Use a sturdy broom or plastic shovel to remove snow.
5. Prep for a new garden: Planning a new garden bed for next summer in an area where grass or weeds are currently growing? Make it easy on yourself by starting the project right now. First, place a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard over the area, then pile on alternating layers of organic material like compost, leaves, pine needles, untreated grass clippings, and straw. In the spring, the grass and weeds underneath the pile will be dead, and your new garden bed will be ready to plant!