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By: Eileen Tully, Colorado Master Gardener
October 31, 2016 Updated: October 31, 2016 at 12:35 pm
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Much of what we do in November is getting the garden ready for next year.

However, if you’re an avid planter and think it’s all over for the year, don’t give up. As long as you can dig in the soil you can plant spring flowering bulbs.

Clean Up:

  • Discard fallen, spoiled or mummified fruits to reduce disease carry over.
  • Prune and remove dead, diseased or damaged branches from shrubs and trees. You can shape and modify many plants at this time. Do not prune spring flowering trees and shrubs in the fall. Winter is an excellent time to prune and shape trees. Once the tree is bare of leaves, the ‘true’ shape can be seen. Prune branches that cross over one another, and branches that are obviously broken.
  • Remove frost killed annuals.
  • Some like it neat – depending on your garden ‘style’ leave or cut back perennial stalks four to six inches. Leaving some foliage will catch snow for winter moisture and protect the crowns of plants. Leave ornamental grasses, as they add winter interest. Birds will appreciate leaving seed heads from sunflowers and rudbeckia.
  • Mow or rake fallen leaves from the lawn and garden beds. A thick accumulation of leaves is an invitation to voles and mice. Persevere with this task even though total leaf removal is impossible. The next gust of wind is sure to bring more leaves into your yard, but it will work in your favor in the long run. The first rule in pest control is to eliminate habitat and hiding places. Shred dry leaves by running over them with the mower. Recycle and compost leaves into mulch and soil-improving compost.


  • Check depth of mulch on flower beds. A two to three inch layer of mulch will protect flower beds from frost heaving.
  • While mulch is good, keep it pulled back several inches from the base of fruit trees to prevent bark injury from mice and other rodents.
  • Protect ornamental and fruit trees from rabbit damage by wrapping or enclosing in a wire screen.
  • Colorado’s winter sun can be intense. To protect against sunscald on young thin-barked trees purchase commercial tree wraps made of crepe paper to insulate the bark. Tree wraps are available at local nurseries. Trees most likely to be affected by sunscald are fruit trees, ashes, oaks, maples, lindens and willows.
  • Strawberries usually go dormant when nighttime temperatures reach 20 degrees. They require a three inch covering of mulch.
  • Roses: In late November, after several nights of 20 degree weather, protect and insulate the graft union of hybrid, floribunda and miniature rose bushes by mounding soil around the plants and adding mulch on top. You can contain the soil and mulch with rose collars available at local nurseries. Cut back tall rose canes to 24 inches to prevent winter breakage. Don’t prune climbing roses this time of year.
  • Garden pools also need protection from freezing. To lessen the chance of ice damage, cover the pool with insulated material or float a stock tank water heater in the pond.


  • Over the coming months when the weather is nice, look for opportunities to work in your garden and reduce the amount of work next spring.
  • Newly planted trees and shrubs will require extra water over winter, especially if there are long periods without moisture and days of desiccating winds. To keep your landscape alive with the least amount of winter damage, water at least once a week when the temperature is over 50 degrees.

As gardeners we’re always planning and dreaming of next year’s garden. If you’re like me, even though gardening is a lot of work, and can be frustrating when things don’t grow as planned, I feel lucky that I love to garden. The connection to the earth and to other gardeners is gratifying beyond measure. This will be the final article for this season but keep in touch on Facebook at


See you next spring!


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