November Zone 4

What to do in the garden in November in zone 4

  • Mulch  Cover perennial beds for winter after the ground freezes, hopefully you didn’t do this already if October was warm. This will prevent cycles of freeze and thaw between now and spring.   Apply a thick layer of shredded leaves, bark mulch, evergreen boughs or seed free straw.  Be cautious about using hay bales widely available this time of year, they are usually full of weed seeds.
  • Mulch trees  If you haven’t done it yet, apply a thick layer of mulch in a large area around trees.  Do not allow the mulch to contact the trunks.
  • Turn the compost  Early in the month before it gets too cold, turn the compost pile one last time.
  • Secure climbing roses  Climbing roses that are hardy enough to remain on their supports through winter need to be securely tied to the support to prevent wind damage.
  • Protect trunks  Young tree trunks and shrubs can be protected from damage by mice, rabbits and deer by installing a barrier.  For trees, slit plastic sleeves are available at garden centers.  Or wrap with hardware cloth.  A chicken wire fence installed around shrubs with stakes works well for young shrubs.
  • Store garden hoses  If you haven’t done it yet, drain and store garden hoses and sprinklers.  And turn the water to the outside faucets of before it freezes.
  • Store containers  If you haven’t stored your clay and ceramic containers yet, get them in the garage before it freezes so they don’t crack.  Remove crusted minerals from clay pots by soaking in water for several hours.  Scrub with steel wool and dish soap if needed.
  • Prune evergreens  You can still prune evergreens if the ground is not frozen and it’s just too cold to be out.
  • Plant bulbs  When November is unusually warm, you can still plant spring blooming bulbs and divide fall blooming bulbs if you do it right away.  Make sure they get plenty of water before the ground freezes.
  • Cut back perennials  If you prefer neat garden beds going into winter, you may cut back perennials after a hard freeze.  Ideally, perennial foliage should be left to over winter.  They tend to hold leaves and snow which gives your perennials extra protection in the winter.
  • Store the mower  Clean up and winterize the lawn mower for storage.  Run the gas tank emply or use an additive.
  • Rake leaves  Rake up and remove fallen leaves.  Shred them for compost.
  • Buy yourself a treat  Pick up a big pot of mums for Thanksgiving.


  • Protect tender roses  Prepare your winter rose protection to put in place when the ground freezes.  If you winter tip, bury them before the ground freezes.  Hopefully you didn’t do this already either if October was warm.
  • Protect evergreens  Small to medium evergreens can be protectedfrom desiccating wind and sunscald with anti-desiccants and/or with burlap wrap or wind screens.  They can also be protected from heavy snowfall that may break and damage limbs by tying or wrapping them.
  • Prune trees and shrubs  If it is not too cold and snowing yet, you can still get out and prune.
  • Leave snow on the evergreens alone  Do not try to remove wet heavy snow from evergreens, you could do more harm than good.  Evergreen limbs remain supple through winter and will bend under the weight, but hopefully will not crack.
calendarSharon Dwyer