5 Ways to Garden in Winter

Give Your Garden a Good Frame
Start up a compost pile before winter arrives.
Start up a compost pile before winter arrives.
©iStockphoto.com/Ducky Cards

Look around. Take stock. Winter reveals a garden's framework. The quiet months of December through March are the perfect time to improve your garden's bones by adding new paths and beds.

Laying a garden path is labor-intensive, but ultimately very simple. First, decide what sort of surface you'd like to have. Slate, bluestone, brick, pea gravel and even hardwood mulch are fine choices. Next, mark your path with spray paint or string. Then, dig the length and width of your marked path down to the depth of your chosen surface material (plus an inch or two if you're using flat stones or bricks). Add a bed of sand to your trench to make the stone and brick paths easier to level. If you're using mulch or gravel, simply fill the trench with your material. Fill in any cracks, and you're done!

Adding new beds or enlarging existing ones is also easy; you can even skip the digging. Again, mark the boarders with spray paint or string. Then, spread newspaper with edges overlapping (about eight sheets thick) over the length and width of the new bed. Cover the newspapers with 4 inches of compost, and top the compost with 6 to 8 inches of shredded leaves or pine straw. By March, the mulch will have flattened out, and you need only to cut through the newspaper to add seedlings.

In the next section, we'll talk about another great way to garden in winter by starting seeds indoors.