14 Winter Garden Tasks to Finish Before Spring


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Get this list of 14 winter garden tasks, some that can be done indoors during cold weather, to help make gardening easier in the spring!

this snowy garden scene helps you learn what winter garden tasks you can do even in bad weather

Winter is here, but that doesn’t mean gardening needs to come to a complete stop. Even if you don’t plan to grow anything at all this winter, there are many vegetable garden chores you can do while the snow flies to get ready for spring!

14 Winter Garden Tasks to Finish Before Spring

1. Clean & Sharpen Garden Tools

The best way to keep your tools sharp is to clean them well after each use. Remove any dirt and rust with steel wool and lightly apply oil to prolong life each and every time you use them. If you reliably clean your tools after use and put them away, you may not need to sharpen them. But if you’re like me and forget from time to time {okay every. single. time}, now’s a good time to fix them!

Simply running the blades over an angle grinder during the winter can make them much easier to use come spring. You can buy an angle grinder for under $30 on Amazon, or if you don’t have access to a wood working shop, Mother Earth News shows you how to use a file in A Guide to Tool Sharpening Basics .

2. Mulch & Fertilize Your Garden

If you didn’t mulch in the fall, it’s not too late to mulch in the winter. A nice layer of mulch will help keep the ground frozen in cold climates like mine and prevent growth during warm spells. Shredded leaves from your lawn work well, as do straw and pine needles. You’ll want mulch that’s easy to remove in the spring or easy to work into the ground.

3. Cover your Garden with Tarps to Kill Weeds

Called solarization, this garden technique is most effective when used in the hot summer and is supposed to be a great way to kill off garden pests and weeds. You can also do this in the winter though, by covering your garden with thick black plastic and leaving it in place for 8-10 weeks. I have a real problem with persistent weeds in my garden and this is something I’m doing this year.


4. Make New Raised Beds

Another thing you can work on from the comfort of your garage or shop is building raised beds. I’m lucky that to have a pretty big wood shop in our barn and a wood working husband, but you can also buy easy to put together raised bed garden kits if you’d prefer that route!

5. Plant Bulbs

Don’t forget to plant your spring garlic and flowering bulbs before the ground is frozen! I almost always do this right around the time the first snow flies. As much as it pains me to work in the garden in the cold, the reward of spring flowers and fresh garlic makes it all worth it. If you’ve never planted garlic before, here’s a comprehensive tutorial on growing garlic.

Get new posts sent to your inbox!
Don’t miss out! Subscribe and get all the new posts first.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

6. Order a Garden Notebook

If you haven’t started a garden notebook yet, make sure you do that this winter! I’m using this The Garden Journal, Planner and Log Book that I found on amazon and it’s so helpful to have garden plans from years past, as well as notes and all garden lists together in one place.


7. Inventory Seeds

You can save yourself a lot of money if you inventory seeds and avoid duplicate orders. I know this from experience. Take a cold afternoon to go through and organize your seeds before placing a new order. I keep my seeds safe in a craft box for photos. I’ve found the 4×6 photo boxes to be the perfect size to hold my seeds! This winter garden task is important because it helps save you money and makes sure you get the seeds you want before they sell out!

8. Order Seed Catalogs & New Gardening Books

Seed catalogs are free and a great source of useful gardening information. Here’s a list of the free seed catalogs I love to drool over during the cold winter months. Make sure you request free catalogs from each of these seed companies this winter.

Now’s also the time to read up on any gardening ideas you’d like to put into practice next year. Check out my list of favorite homesteading and gardening books to see if there’s one you’d like to read too!

9. Plan Next Year’s Garden

One of my favorite winter gardening tasks  is to plan! It’s always fun to dream about your new garden. This is a great task to complete indoors during cold weather. And having a detailed plan to work from makes seed starting and early planting much easier! Make sure you check out these tips for spring garden planning while you’re working on your plan. And don’t forget to add these ten must have companion plants too!

10. Fix Tomato Baskets and Make More if Necessary

Winter is also a great time to work on your trellis and tomato baskets, or make more if you need them. A couple years ago I made huge tomato cages out of wire fencing and they work really well. Here’s a tutorial if you’d like to make your own strong and effective tomato cages.

11. Gather Seed Starting Supplies

If you plan to start your own seeds indoors, you’ll want to be ready to go! So gather seed starting supplies and seeds – especially those early spring crops like onions and lettuce. They’ll need to be started well before spring.

12. Get Your Early Spring Seeds Ready

Spring will be here before you know it. To make the most out of the growing season, it’s important to get going as soon as you can. Some plants do better when planted in the very early spring or late winter. Make sure to you have early spring seeds ready to go. Know when you last frost date is so you know when to plant. Veggies like peas, lettuce, kale, and spinach can all be planted several weeks before your last frost! Here are my 10 favorite early spring plants!

13. Deter Next Season’s Pest

There’s not much you can do in the winter for pest control – but you do need to make sure to remove any and all diseased or infested plants. Do not put them in your compost pile if you intend to put that compost on your garden! 

14. Prune Trees and Shrubs

Winter is the time to prune those fruit trees for maximum harvest! Make sure to wait until the trees are dormant and prune in late winter or early spring. Learn more about organic fruit tree care here.

Do you do winter garden tasks that I didn’t mention? Please share!


About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

You May Also Like:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. You make the winter months something to look forward to! These are great tips. I love the seed storing idea in the photo box. we have seed packages falling from all sorts of cubby holes around here. I’m going to find those boxes!

  2. Yes, yes – these are all great Michelle! Now if only to get to them all. 😉
    I do love the January tradition of browsing through seed catalogs and planning, though…for our perfect garden, ha!

    I, too, love that photo box idea, looks way more neat than my file box!

  3. I definitely need to be better about cleaning and sharpening my tools! When I’m done with all my hard work at the end of the day, I’m usually tired and forget this important step. I also mulch in my gardens with shredded leaves. Works like a charm! Every time I read about solarization, I really want to give it a try! I’m guilty of forgetting to plant my spring bulbs! This is a great reminder. Sometimes it’s tough to remember because of the weather fluctuations. I feel like it goes from 80 to 40 degrees overnight here! I have the exact same craft box for my seeds! How funny! It works super well. I also have smaller ones too. Great minds think alike 🙂 Seed catalogs are one of my most treasured items over the winter months. I already can’t wait to start planning my garden for next year!

  4. Great ideas Michelle! I like your idea of a photo box to organize the seeds. Right now I keep my seeds in zipper baggies in our extra refrigerator. I like your organizing idea better. We usually clean our garden tools after each use but I need to get better about sharpening them I usually only sharpen them when I notice they are dull.