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How to Winterize a Raised Garden Bed: 7 Tips & Tricks

garden bed with cover

After a successful harvest, it’s time to put your raised garden bed away for the cold winter. In other words, you’re going to have to winterize your raised garden bed to make sure it is protected and ready to go when spring rolls around.

Luckily, winterizing a raised garden bed is not that difficult, especially if you know these seven tips and tricks:

garden flower divider

The 7 Tips & Tricks to Winterize a Raised Garden Bed

1. Clean Out Your Bed

The first thing you should always do when winterizing your garden bed is to clean it out. Pull up any dead plant material, sick plants, and weeds. If you leave these things in the bed, you could cause insect infestation or disease to overtake the entire bed. So, clean out your bed now to have healthy soil come spring.

cleaning cloth and detergent
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

2. Refill Soil

Don’t forget to refill the soil. More than likely, you will need to refill the soil at least to some degree. So, add just a little bit of soil until you reach your desired level. How much you add will vary from year to year.

3. Add Compost

While you are refilling the soil, add some compost to the raised garden beds, too. Adding compost will ensure that the soil is extra nutritious and healthy for your plants come springtime. It also adds a layer of protection.

Image Credit: Thiti Wongluang, Pixabay

4. Add a Protective Layer

If you know that you struggle with weeding, it’s a good idea to add an additional protective layer over the soil. For many people, a layer of organic compost will be enough protection, but you may also want to add some leaf mold, mulch, or leaves.

For further protection, consider a cover crop. These cover crops will effectively reduce weeds and help to maintain your soil’s health while it is cold.

5. Repair the Structure

While you are checking out the soil, make sure to look at the structure. The outside needs to be clean and be free of any repairs. This will make your job so much easier come spring. Some winters, you might not need to do anything, whereas you may need to redo almost the entire bed for other years.

Cedar Raised Garden Bed
Image Credit: Kristen Prahi, Shutterstock

6. Plant Your Winter Harvest

Instead of allowing your raised garden beds to go to waste, plant winter crops in your empty beds. Garlic, carrots, leafy greens, and radishes grow great in the winter. You may need to add some additional winter crop tools, such as row cover tunnels or cold frames.

7. Plan For Leaf and Snow Removal

Regardless of whether you choose to plant a winter harvest, plan for leaf and snow removal. You will likely need to remove fallen leaves and snow as the winter goes on. Remove these things as soon as possible so that your raised garden beds do not get damaged before springtime.

snow on leaves
Image Credit: laura adai, Unsplash

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Should I Cover My Raised Beds in the Winter?

Whether or not you cover your raised beds ultimately depends on your preference and your environment. You always want to cover your beds with some material, whether it be compost or leaves. A single layer will add protection that is essential in the winter.

If you know you live in an incredibly harsh winter area, you might also want to add some sort of tarp or plastic over the top of the raised bed. This can help protect your winter harvest and the soil underneath.

evergreen trees during winter_ErikaWittlieb, Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Which Plants Are Best for Winter Crops?

Don’t let your raised garden beds go to waste in the winter. Instead, select plants that are great for a winter harvest. Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, and spinach are fantastic. So are plants like garlic, mustard greens, arugula, carrots, green onions, and even broccoli.

Before you go crazy with your winter harvest, make sure to check out your USDA planting zone. The planting zone refers to how cold your area gets in the winter. You can then find plants that match your area using these zones.

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Prepare your raised beds for the winter by cleaning out the bed, refilling the soil, adding compost, and adding a protective layer. Don’t forget to look at the structure, plant a winter harvest, and plan for leaf and snow removal. By doing these things, your raised garden bed will be ready come springtime.


Featured Image Credit: John R Martin, Shutterstock


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