Have you harvested your winter vegetable garden yet? Far too often the standard gardening tips focus on growing, nurturing and ultimately harvesting these tasty treats. What about the other landscape flora? The far more cold-susceptible warm-weather shrubs and perennials are forgotten. Do not make this mistake that results in costly trips to the garden center in spring! Learn how to winter plants that make up the majority of your yard. Three simple winter gardening ideas protect these investments in your yard’s look and feel, set them up for a great growing season come spring, and leave you feeling certain that you have made every effort to maintain a gorgeous garden without splurging.
Prune selectively in Fall
Applying the pruning shears to a shrub or ornamental tree may sound like a good idea – after all, there are fewer leaves to obstruct the view of branches – but doing so leads to late-season growth. With freezing temperatures right around the corner, any new growth is almost certain to die off; in some cases, this process can severely damage the shrub or tree. Restrict fall pruning only to the removal of dead wood.
Mulch and water
You would think that there is no reason to water during the winter; after all, ornamental plants should have gone dormant. Nevertheless, occasional watering is part of winter gardening. Even dormant plants need some water to survive. Prior to the first frost, apply a three- to four-inch layer of new mulch around ornamental plants, shrubs and trees. Water the plants and ensure that moisture reaches the roots. Thereafter, water at least once a month in winter when the ground thaws. Try to do so early in the day during a warm spell.
Cover, shade or spray
The glistening snow, the bright white house paint and the full winter sun are enough to make your eyes hurt. Do you know what this amount of reflected sunlight does to your ornamental plants? Loose burlap covering over a shrub protects against the mid-morning heating up that then gives way to the early afternoon re-freeze. To winter plants that are part of your front yard landscape – and supposed to be ornamental even in winter – add spray protection. Use a foliar anti-desiccant to minimize the damage that sun exposure and freezing temperatures might do to your plants.
While you are looking for some winter gardening ideas, be sure to use common sense as well. For example, avoid the use of salt-containing de-icers for the driveway. Runoff damages roots and leaves. Instead, rely on coarse sand to minimize the danger of slip and fall injuries. Remember also not to uproot apparently dead plants; do not prune supposedly dead branches. There is a good chance that the plants are dormant and will come back to life in spring.