Some plants will do well no matter how badly you neglect them. I couldn’t kill my New England asters if I tried. But many plants will benefit from a layer of mulch.
Whether you use straw, or shredded leaves, or another material of your choosing, it’s a good idea to mulch. This isn’t so much to protect the plants from the cold as it is to keep an even temperature around the plants. This will stop the freeze-thaw cycle that can happen with wildly fluctuating temperatures. It’s OK if your plants are cold as long as they stay cold. But to make sure this works, do it after we get our first hard frost.
As you’re cleaning up your garden, you can probably squeeze in a last trip to the yard waste site. Most cities have something like this. In La Crosse, it’s located on Isle La Plume at 2000 Marco Drive. You can take your yard waste and even your branches here and dump them for free as long as you are a resident of La Crosse.
The yard waste site is open through Nov. 22, open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. With the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, the site will close weekdays at 6 p.m.
The city has already made a sweep through La Crosse picking up leaves on the boulevard and will continue to do so until Thanksgiving, weather permitting. So if you’re not going to keep your leaves for your compost pile (and you should keep at least some of them), rake them to the boulevard for pickup.