Winter flower gardens may seem to be sleeping, but in many cases, there is life going on beneath the surface. Spring bulbs are preparing to break dormancy, and seed-bearing annuals are appearing graceful in their dried forms while still providing food for birds and wildlife. While there is less to do in the garden over winter, keeping on top of chores helps alleviate the amount of work needed in spring. Begin winterizing your garden in fall so there is less to do over the winter.
Remove fallen leaves, dead plant materials and other garden debris before the first snowfall. These items become a haven for insects and disease that attack your plants in spring.
Pull up annual flowers once they die back. Leave those with interesting winter skeletons or beneficial seeds, such as coneflowers, in the ground over the winter. Leave in place any annuals you want to self-seed that haven't yet released their seed heads.
Lay a fresh 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch over perennial and bulb beds. These insulate the ground, preventing frost heave that may damage roots and bulbs.
Lay mulch over any annual beds that have been self-seeded or winter sown. This preserves the soil moisture and temperature, aiding germination come spring.
Dig up tender plants, such as dahlia or begonia, after the first frost has killed back the foliage. Store indoors in dry peat moss.
Check the soil around flowering evergreen shrubs in the garden for moisture during periods that are above freezing in winter. Water if the soil feels dry, as this prevents damage to the plants from lack of winter moisture.