Winter teaches us some difficult lessons about plant life in our outdoor space each year. Fall is the right time to prepare so you and your outdoor space are ready for whatever winter throws our way! We just finished some great seminars that helped our customers get ready for winter, but if you missed them, this month’s post is dedicated to helping you prepare for winter.
Winter can be especially hard on Evergreens. The combination of cold temperatures and harsh winds can dry out and kill a lot of top growth, resulting in extensive browning. As we prepare for this winter, some Evergreens may still be showing damage from last winter even though they survived. You can give your Evergreens extra protection this winter in several ways:
Mulch: Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch to evenly cover the root ball (typically 2 – 3 feet out from the trunk) to cover and protect vulnerable roots, especially for Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Spruce, and Pine.
Anti-Desiccant: Spray Broadleaf Evergreens, including Boxwood, Rhododendrons, and Azaleas, with an anti-desiccant before hard frost and during any winter thawing periods to avoid moisture loss through the leaves they retain year-round.
Burlap Screen: Protect more of your Evergreens this year than you have in the past, especially in areas of your yard where plants were damaged last winter. This can be done by constructing a burlap screen to protect them from wind, snow pile-up, or salt spray.
Arborvitae are especially vulnerable to damage from heavy snow that can break branches or burn out the leaves at the bottom if snow pack freezes around the base of the tree. To avoid these problems, tie branches to the trunk with rope (never with wire), and build a burlap screen about a foot out from trees that are vulnerable to snow pack or wind.
We have all the materials you need, including rolls of burlap, stakes, and Wilt-Stop, a natural anti-desiccant product derived from pine trees to help you protect your evergreens regardless of the severity of winter this year!
Keep Up The Outdoor Chores
Just because the leaves are falling and you do not have to mow as often doesn’t mean it’s time to stop your outdoor chores! Instead, keep doing these things to help your outdoor space absorb the winter and be ready to spring to life soon after:
Water: Continue to water evergreens, trees, and shrubs (especially those planted in the last three years) until the ground is frozen if rain does not provide an inch of moisture each week. If you plant new trees, Remember to water thoroughly until the ground is frozen.
Mow: Keep mowing the lawn, and be sure to mow high – about 3 inches — until the final mowing of the season, when you can lower your mower blades to 2 inches. Leaves can be mown right into the lawn. If you have too many, rake, shred and mulch them into flower beds. We’ve written about this technique for building the soil many times because it is essential – and economical.
Dig tender bulbs such as Canna, Dahlias, Elephant Ears, and Gladiolus and store them for winter. Shake off excess dirt and cut off stems. Rinse if necessary to remove soil. Layer with peat moss, sawdust, shredded newspaper, or sand in ventilated containers. These tubers and bulbs can be stored in your crawl space or anywhere where the temperature is 40 to 45 degrees all winter.
This is the time to plant bulbs for a colorful show next spring. Bulbs can be planted until the ground freezes. To keep squirrels from digging up newly planted bulbs, use a repellent or place chicken wire over the soil to protect your hard work!
Cut out dead or diseased branches from trees and shrubs. This step will significantly decrease the breakage of branches laden with snow. At the same time, you can provide some extra mulch to trees and shrubs, but always ensure that the mulch is kept a few inches away from the tree trunk.
Hedge shrubs can be cut back by 1/3 to 1/2 of their height and mulched as part of your fall chores. This will encourage lush new growth in the spring.
Don’t stop enjoying your outdoor space just because the temperatures start falling. You can still get the same joy and satisfaction by knowing your garden or lawn will be healthy come springtime! Stop by any of our locations and speak with one of our friendly associates to help us get the items you need to prepare for winter!