After dividing spring-flowering perennials and planting spring bulbs, it is time to consider garden maintenance. Some gardeners may choose to plant pansies for winter color, but others may allow their beds to rest. Many find winter brown a restful color for the landscape, its appearance in harmony with the fallen leaves and sculptures presented by the bare branches of trees and shrubs.
In either case, maintenance requires removing all plant debris, such as leaves, twigs and dead or dying plants. These often harbor insects and diseases that can reappear in the spring.
Work old decaying mulch into the soil. The beds will be enriched by the nutrients present in the mulch. Add enough fresh mulch to maintain a depth of’ two or three inches. Use shredded leaves, pine needles or pine bark. These will not mat down but will allow air circulation.
Monitor rainfall levels, and check for drainage problems. Review successes and failures of the past season, and apply those lessons to plans for new flower beds next spring.
Linda Brumitt, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service