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Getting Ready For Winter

In our area, winter is a time of dormancy and rest. Not much grows in these parts during the winter months but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tricks and techniques that will help your lawn and landscape come back strong in the spring. Keep reading to find out how you can give your plants the best chance of surviving the winter and thriving next summer!


Lawns are pretty easy to work with as far as winterizing goes. They don’t require much if any prep because turfgrasses go into dormancy very readily when temperature or humidity/precipitation drops. When a lawn is dormant it can look dead, becoming dry and straw colored but it is still very much aliveand will green right up with the change of the season.

Some people opt for a winterizing fertilization treatment which contains both potassium and nitrogen. This gives the grass a good supply of nutrients to feed on throughout the winter, keeping the roots aliveand healthy.

One thing to consider is that the layer of snow that we typically get in Southeastern Michigan can act asan insulator for your lawn, essentially acting like a blanket. This is true for a lot of groundcover plants as well.


Landscape is where winterization gets a bit more tricky. Most native Michigan plants will do just fine on their own in the winter but if they’ve been planted recently you might (rightfully) be a bit worried about whether they’ll make it through the harsh temperatures and dry air that winter brings but luckily there are methods to ensure they do.

Wrapping Plants

One popular method that has been used for a long time is wrapping plants in burlap once they’ve lost most of their foliage and entered their dormant state. The burlap acts as a blanket and traps the heat thatyour plants naturally produce. It’s actually not uncommon for burlap wrapped plants to melt any snow that accumulates on top of them because they’ve trapped enough heat to bring the snow above freezing.Straw can be used the same way for plants like groundcover or shrubs.

An alternative to this is just a generous layer of mulch. The mulch will act like a blanket over the soil and keeps the roots above freezing, as well as providing organic material and nutrients for your plants as soon as they’re needed in the spring.

What do I cut down?

Certain plants like rose bushes and seasonal grasses need to be down about 3”-5” above ground level. The old shoots or canes won’t grow back, so it’s best to cut them off to prevent it from looking unkempt in the spring. Roses in particular benefit from being cut back in the fall because it allows moreair and light to reach through the new canes and helps them bloom more readily and in higher quantity.

The Gist

There’s a lot of different ways that you can prepare for winter and give your plants the best chance of thriving in the spring. You can mix and match these tips and find something that works for you but most of the time if you’ve gone with native plants in your landscape design any winter prep should be minimal.