by Barbara Hobbs
With the holidays behind us and the cold weather upon us, we generally think that gardening and lawn projects need not be taken up again until warm spring weather comes. However, although weekly mowing, weeding and watering can be put aside, there are still tasks that can be undertaken during this relatively dormant period which will lead to more successful spring landscaping.
Winter is a good time for you to take a look at your overall landscaping and think about changes you may want to make. Let this plan be a guide as you undertake trimming trees, pruning shrubs and bushes, preparing flower and vegetable beds, and removing dead and overgrown plants. Be sure to research the needs of new landscaping items with regards to sun exposure, water needs, and space requirements.
CLEAN UP YOUR TOOLS
Caring for your garden tools and equipment is an important job, often ignored during the summer months when they are used frequently. Take advantage of the winter period by cleaning tools, resharpening blades, washing out empty pots, scheduling a maintenance check for your mower, and cleaning up the storage area for your gardening items. Wipe down containers of liquid fertilizer or weed/pest killer and be sure lids are on tight. Throw away unneeded items that are just cluttering up the area.
PRUNING LEADS TO BETTER SIZE AND GROWTH
Trimming trees and shrubs is a perfect project for the dormant winter months, especially if they have outgrown their space or have dead branches. Tree trimming can be a major project, depending on the size and location of the trees. You may need to enlist the aid of professionals who have the appropriate tools and expertise to do the job. Trimming shrubs, evergreens and deciduous trees is a more manageable job, leads to healthy new growth in the spring, and improves the overall look of the landscaping. Remember to prune rose bushes on Valentine’s Day!
PREPARING FLOWER BEDS FOR SPRING PLANTINGS
Empty flower beds are a palette waiting to be filled. For best preparation, use this winter time to remove debris, dead plants, leaves and unwanted weeds. Add nutrients to the soil with compost or fertilizer, clean up the edges of the garden beds, add edging to prevent grass intrusion, plant bulbs, and top with mulch.
DON’T IGNORE THE LAWN
Lawn maintenance may be less necessary than in the summer months, but mowing once a month will prevent most common winter weeds. Lower the level of the mower blade and use a bag attachment to catch any seeds from weeds. Fertilizing before the first freeze will help lawns by replacing nutrients lost from the soil during the hot summer months. Pre-emergent products applied in late winter or early spring also minimalize weeds.
DON’T WAIT FOR SPRING’S INSPIRATION
Warm, sunny days at the end of the cold winter months motivate us all to run to the nurseries for plants, to box stores for lawn products and to lawn service companies for lawn care. However, don’t underestimate the effect of your winter projects to lessen the hectic tasks of spring and to produce striking results. Healthy new growth, less weeds and yard pests, and better compatibility in the now-trimmed trees and shrubs all contribute to attractive, lush landscaping you’ll be proud of.