Mulching for the Winter

What you’ll need

  • Straw (or other mulch cover)

step 1: Wait for the right time

Apply winter mulches after the ground has frozen. This usually happens when the nighttime temperature reaches 25 degrees—around Thanksgiving in many areas. But while you’re waiting, water well to be sure the soil is moist when it freezes. Winter mulch is to keep the ground consistently cold; it protects from warm spells, not cold.

step 2: Spread the mulch

Spread pine needles, straw, or stiff leaves that won’t mat down about four inches deep on the soil around perennials, roses, and shrubs. Keep the mulch pulled back slightly from the trunks of trees and shrubs.

step 3: Remove the mulch in the spring

Once the weather is consistently warm and the danger of a hard freeze is past, remove the mulch to let the soil warm up and perennials emerge. Compost the mulch, or save it to re-apply as a summer mulch in a few weeks.