Ornamental Garden Calendar for November

A screening barrier installed to protect the boxwood hedge from excess sun and wind during the winter months while the ground is frozen. In the background a deer fence is installed to prevent winter feeding on the needles of Weeping Nootka Cypress.

Trees and Shrubs

Pruning wrapped up in the first half of Sept. Efforts this month involve helping the trees and shrubs to prepare for winter.

  • Clean up leaf debris, especially if there was disease in the garden. This also helps to remove over wintering sites for pest insects.
  • Install barriers to protect evergreens against winter desiccation, if it has been a problem in past.
  • If deer are a problem in your area, deer fences can be installed around susceptible evergreens.
  • Evergreens like pyramid cedars and junipers may be tied with twine to prevent branches from being weighted down with snow and breaking.
  • Barriers to protect vulnerable trees and shrubs from rabbit damage can be installed. Examples of some susceptible trees and shrubs are euonymus, burning bush, rose of Sharon, spirea, birds nest spruce barberry, and dwarf Korean lilac.
  • Make sure trees and shrub remain well watered and do not go into winter freeze draught stressed.
  • Scout your yard for gypsy moth eggs. Egg clusters are usually ¾” and oval in shape. They look like a piece of felt or velour and are buff colored when first laid but may bleach out over the winter months when exposed to direct sunlight and weathering. Common hiding places include the underside of branches, tree trunks, fences, firewood, outdoor furniture, swing sets, boats, and trailers and under the eaves of buildings. When an egg mass is observed it should be scraped off with a knife and dropped into a bucket. Destroy the eggs by burning, crushing or by pouring scalding hot water over them. 
  • Search viburnum shrubs for signs of egg laying sites of the viburnum leaf beetle, located on the underside of young branches. The eggs are laid in excavated rows and covered with a spongey like cement. Prune off affected branches.
  • Search your boxwood for overwintering Boxtree moth caterpillars. They can be found, with difficulty, between 2 leaves that have been sewn shut with webbing. This enclosure is called a “hibernarium”. Spiders also overwinter in this manor, but they overwinter as eggs whereas Boxtree moths overwinter as caterpillars. Hand-remove the “hibernariums” or prune them out and prepare to do battle come spring.
  • Once the leaves fall off the deciduous trees and shrubs it is easier to spot scale insects and borer damage. If any found, make a note to spray dormant oil in early spring (to non-sensitive trees and shrubs) or plan your line of defense for next season over the winter.
Barriers against winter rabbit damage.
A barrier against winter rabbit damage.
Slipcovers are installed over these topiary pieces to protect them from winter desiccation.
These junipers have been tied with twine to prevent the branches from being weighted down with snow and breaking.


  • Perennials can be safely cut back, and garden debris removed from the garden.
  • Fertilizing should have stopped at the end of August to allow the growth to begin hardening off for winter.
  • Tall rose canes can be shortened to to prevent winter wind damage.
  • Tulips and other spring bulbs still can be planted until ground freeze.
  • Hill roses to protect the graft from winter damage.
Hilling a rose to protect it against the cold and more importantly to protect it against freeze thaw cycles.


  • Annuals may be removed.


  • Biennial weeds like common burdock and winter annual weeds like common chickweed, annual blue grass, prickly lettuce, henbit, garlic mustard, shepherd’s purse, stink weed and members of the mustard family are germinating and still actively growing; once the ground freezes they will pause growing and resume growing and flowering in spring (some will continue to grow during winter thaws). Some perennial weeds like field bind weed, Canada thistle, creeping Charlie, clover, plantain, quack grass and dandelion are still actively growing. Weeding these out now while they are small will be much easier than waiting till spring when the soil is very wet and the weeds are growing rapidly.  


  • Keep the leaves raked up or mulched in, to prevent the turf from dying. 
  • Keep the lawn mowed until it finishes growing for the season. The ideal height to overwinter your lawn is about 2″ to 2 1/2 “. If left to long, you may have snow mold problems. Do not mow when covered in frost.
  • Leather jackets continue feeding until the soil freezes and may also feed during winter thaws. If your turf is showing signs of damage from this pest a spring application of nematodes may be warranted.


  • Mid to late November is a great time to start making your Christmas arrangements.

Photo credits: all photos taken by the author.

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