Rain, snow, and cold cold temperatures. Winter’s not even close to half over and already it seems like forever. Whatever the weather where you live, the season can take a hard toll on your lawn and garden. But if you bundle up and take some time now to see how everything is making out, you can resolve any problems before they get worse. The reward will be a beautiful start to spring.
Take Care of Your Lawn
Yes, it’s still out there, even if it’s covered with snow, and there’s not much to do in that case. But do survey the area and remove any branches that may have fallen as well as any furniture or big toys you didn’t put away earlier because any pressure on frozen lawns can kill turfgrass crowns and leave you with bare spots and drainage problems you’ll have to deal with later. That also means you shouldn’t do too much walking – and certainly no driving — on snow-laden or soggy soil.
If there’s a thaw or a span of fairer weather:
- Rake. Clear the lawn of fallen leaves and debris that harbor insects and disease. Just don’t rake so hard that you take up the grass, too.
- Mow. Depending on where you live, your grass will be dormant or at least grow more slowly. If you can mow, though, do it, and leave the clippings to serve as soil-enriching mulch. It’s particularly important to mow cool season grasses like ryegrass, fine fescue, and bluegrass varieties so they don’t harbor snow mold.
- Water if necessary. If your lawn isn’t getting at least an inch of water a week, it won’t be able to maintain itself. It might sound counterintuitive, but watering if necessary is also important before a freeze so that the root zone retains enough moisture to whether it.
The nicest thing you can do for your lawn during this season is to engage a reliable lawn care service that will take the burden off you and keep your landscaping in great shape throughout the coming year.
Prune Your Plants, Shrubs, and Trees
During winter dormancy is the ideal time for trimming perennial plants and pruning shrubs, hedges, and trees. Mature trees need care because strong winds and heavy snow can break off branches and harm people and property. Don’t take on large trees or high branches yourself; hire professionals who are experienced in climbing and using dangerous equipment.
You can trim a smaller tree by yourself, but be aware that pruning is stressful and increases a tree’s susceptibility to disease and insects. Remove just what’s necessary, like broken, diseased, and damaged branches, branches that are crossing each other or growing inward, and branches that are growing in odd directions. Never remove more than 25% of a tree’s branches, and leave living branches on at least two-thirds of the tree’s height.
Give Your Planting Beds Some Love
If you didn’t do it in the fall, it’s not too late to lay in a good cover of mulch around all of your plants to protect roots from harsh temperatures that are still to come as well as keep weeds from sprouting later. But don’t cover the trunks of shrubs and trees, because mulch holds moisture and can cause rot.
Get a Head Start on Spring Color
Even if it’s past time to plant bulbs for spring blooming, go ahead and do it anyway if you’re able to get a shovel in the ground. Just plant the bulbs a little deeper than usual, and top them with straw for insulation. If the ground is frozen hard, plant the bulbs in pots and water them just enough so that the soil doesn’t completely dry out. When the weather warms up, you can let them bloom in the pots or transplant them out into your garden.
Prepare Your Gardening Tools
It’s not the most thrilling way to spend a cold afternoon, but at least you can do this inside by the fire. Use a stiff brush to rout out old dirt from your tools, then rinse and dry them thoroughly. If blades are rusty, soak them in a container of vinegar for a day or two and then scrub off the residue with a steel wool pad. Lubricate the pivot points with a little oil, and sharpen the blades with a whetstone or knife sharpener. Then go take a well-deserved cozy nap!