It seems as if winter has been here forever, but we’re barely halfway to spring. Whether it’s been snow, rain, or just colder temperatures where you live, winter weather can wreak havoc on your yard landscaping. Taking some time now to see how everything is holding up, and resolving any problems before they get worse, will get starting on curing your cabin fever with springtime beauty.
The Basics of Mid-Winter Care For Your Yard, Garden, and Lawn
Prune your Plants
While your perennial plants are dormant during winter, it’s the ideal time for trimming and pruning trees and shrubs. Strong winds and heavy snow can break off branches and injure people and damage property. It’s too dangerous to prune large or high branches yourself, so hire professionals who are experienced and have the necessary insurance.
You can prune by yourself, but keep in mind that over pruning is stressful and increases a tree’s susceptibility to disease and insects. Prune just what’s necessary, like broken, diseased, and damaged branches, branches that are crossing each other or growing inward, and branches growing the wrong way. Keep your pruning to just a quarter of the branches.
Care for Your Lawn
The lawn is still out there, even if it’s hidden by snow, and there’s not much to do if it is. But do pick up any branches that may have fallen as well as anything you forgot to remove earlier, like kid’s toys, hoses, or patio furniture. If you can avoid walking on snow-laden or soggy soil, that’s a good idea, too. Putting pressure on frozen lawns can kill turfgrass crowns and leave you with bare spots, though anything that weighs down and compresses soil will cause problems you’ll have to fix later.
If you don’t have snow, or it melts briefly, here are a few more lawn care tips that will help your landscape survive the season:
- Rake. Clear the lawn of fallen leaves and debris that harbor insects and disease, but don’t rake so hard that you take up the grass, too.
- Mow. Depending upon where you live, your grass will be growing more slowly or be entirely dormant. Don’t neglect mowing, though, and leave clippings where they are to serve as soil-enriching mulch. (Cool season grasses can harbor snow mold if you don’t mow them properly.)
- Water if necessary. Winter doesn’t give you a free pass to stop watering. If your lawn isn’t getting at least an inch of water a week, it won’t be able to protect itself. It might sound counterintuitive, but the root zone needs to retains enough moisture to weather freezes.
Give Your Planting Beds Some TLC
It’s better late than never protect roots from harsh temperatures that are still to come as well as keep weeds from sprouting later by spreading mulch. Leave space directly around trunks, though, or else the mulch might cause rot.
Start Color for Spring
It might be too late to plant bulbs if you can’t get a shovel in the ground, but they likely won’t last until next year if you don’t do something with them. If you can break through the ground, dig a little deeper when you plant and insulate with straw. Or the easier way is just to plant bulbs in pots inside, and then transplant in the spring or leave them inside to cheer up your décor.
Now’s a great time to start flower and vegetable seeds inside, too. It’s a great project to do with the kids, and fun for everyone to watch as the seedlings grow.
Get Your Gardening Tools Ready
If you didn’t clean and oil your tools before you put them away the last time you used them, spend a cold afternoon taking care of them now while you dream of spring. Use a stiff brush to rout out old dirt, then rinse and dry 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 blades with a whetstone or knife sharpener. Done!
I hope you find these tips for mid-winter yard care helpful. Have fun out there! If you have any tips or tricks for mid-winter yard care, share them in the comments below.