How to keep your soil and plants healthy during the cold months.

By Sharon Tanenbaum and Ashley Tate
Updated January 15, 2009
Ngoc Minh Ngo

Follow these easy steps once the first frost hits.

  • Remove and discard annual plants―flowers, herbs, and vegetables―and clip green-stemmed perennials back to just above the soil. If you don’t, insects and disease can infest your garden, says Charlie Nardozzi, a senior horticulturist for the National Gardening Association.
  • Do one last sweep for any remaining weeds, and spread any type of compost (available at garden centers) over your beds to insulate them from winter’s freezing and thawing cycles.
  • Remove and discard plants and the potting soil from containers. Then stash the empty pots inside a garage, a basement, or a shed so they won’t crack during the winter cold. If you have perennials or evergreens in pots, move them to an unheated garage or shed.
  • Drain and unhook garden hoses. Roll them and store indoors to extend their life span.