As much as we hate to be the bearer of bad news, winter is coming. But don't worry, you can totally handle it! Just follow these seven steps to make sure your garden is prepared.

Hydrangeas

DIG UP DYING PLANTS

Insect infestation totally kill your hydrangeas? Don’t wait until next spring to deal with the problem. Here’s why: Insect eggs can actually survive the cold, so it’s best to pull up infected plants and cut your losses now. Same goes for plants fighting other diseases like fungus, mildew and rot. Just be sure you burn or bag 'em. (If you compost sick plants, the disease will spread all winter long.)

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PRUNE YOUR PERENNIALS

Giving your plants a trim just before winter is essential--just be sure to wait until after the first frost. Then plan to cut stems so they’re about six to eight inches off the ground. This will protect them from winter debris and snow and make way for new growth come spring.

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STORE DELICATE SUMMER BULBS

Plants like dahlias or gladiolus need a bit of extra care if you want them to see another season. After the first frost, dig them up and dry out the roots for a few days before covering them in a protective layer of sawdust and storing them in a cool, dark basement until next spring.

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COVER UP WITH COMPOST

True story: Fall leaves make a great addition to all those kitchen scraps you’ve been collecting. After you’ve cut back your perennials, spread a thick layer of compost all around the roots to enrich the soil with valuable nutrients that will help protect it from the cold.

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LAY DOWN PROTECTIVE MULCH

Just be sure to wait until it really gets cold. If you put mulch (everything from hay and grass to leaves and manure) down too early, mice will turn it into their winter playground and wreak havoc.

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DON’T FORGET YOUR FALL VEGGIES

Remember, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and potatoes will all survive up through the first light frost. But when the cold really sets in, you’ll want to lay down about one to two inches of compost over vines and stems. This will refresh the soil so it’s ready to go when temps warm up.

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PLANT SPRING BULBS AND GARLIC

Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, even garlic--now’s the time to get these guys into the ground. Plant them at a depth that’s about three times the height of the bulb so animals can’t get at them. And good news: No watering required.

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