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Even though the long, hot and dry summer may still be fresh in your mind, winter's chill is on its way. And it's time to think about getting your garden ready for the cold season.

Offering five tips on what to get done before that first snowflake falls in the Squamish-Pemberton-Whistler area is Heike Stippler, a Red Seal endorsed landscape horticulturalist and owner of Heike Designs Inc., which earned recognition as BC Landscape Member of the Year in 2014.

1. Take stock of your garden

"The plants direct us to what part of the season it is," Stippler said. "Be observant of what's going on around you. Horticulture is fun, but also complex. So, understanding plants and their signals is the very first thing to do."

2. Cut plants back with caution

Cutting back flowers, trees and shrubs to make it tidy for winter is not always the best thing to do.

"Don't cut plants back too early before they are into full dormancy because much of its energy stored in its leaves. And that can leave it stressed," she said, adding pruning shrubs and trees needs to be done at the right time for each specific plant and for the results you desire.

Leaving some plants alone can also allow beneficial insects, such as pollinators that are essential to healthy, summer gardens, find refuge and over winter in your yard.

3. Watch out for frost

While you are planning to get things ready now for winter, don't forget to also plan ahead for spring by planting bulbs, which will make your garden burst with colour.

"Planting bulbs can take place from now until before the first frost comes," Stippler said. "Get them in the ground after you've cut back your perennials so you can see where they can fit in and grow."

4. Time for lime

Add lime to your lawn. But first, check on the acidity levels of your soil to see what is needed.

"Generally, in Whistler, we have so many conifers that provide acidity that most lawns will benefit from lime," Stippler said.

5. Banking on snow

Prune your plants keeping in mind where snow banks will accumulate.

"Make sure you keep some plants at a height where they can best deal with the heavy snowfall," Stippler said.

For more information, visit Heike Designs on Facebook, or email info@heikedesigns.com.

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