As winter approaches there are some basic gardening tips that can be followed to ensure the health and vitality of your landscape plants. I have discussed each of these separately in past articles and have decided to put them all into one list for easier reference.
Watering During Fall & Winter: It is important that prior to winter that there is significant moisture around your plants. Once the ground freezes it is difficult for water to percolate down to the roots. Deciduous trees go dormant but evergreens remain somewhat active and need moisture to the roots. Water as much as possible before the ground freezes, especially if you have new plantings. A well watered tree will over winter far better than a thirsty one and will not be as susceptible to winter frost damage and drying.
Pruning Ornamental Grasses: Here's a helpful tip for pruning your ornamental grasses such as 'Miscanthus sinensis' Maiden Grass or Dwarf Fountain Grass 'Hameln'. Winter cold can harm the center of grasses causing them to "hollow out". It is best to cut your grasses back in late March to early April in order to protect the roots. If your grasses become a bit unruly by the end of the fall then just cut back the plumes and leave the rest for early spring. Another trick is to wrap a bungee cord about half way up around the center and let the grasses drape over keeping them upright and in place. Ornamental grasses can add much interest to the winter landscape and be enjoyed all winter long. For more information visit:
Anti-Desiccant Spray: When the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees it is time to apply an anti-desiccant spray to your broad leaf evergreens such as holly, rhododendron, cherry laurel, skip laurel, mountain laurel, Japanese skimmia, leucothoe, aucuba and boxwood. These plants can be subject to severe winter burn due to water loss from the leaves by transpiration. Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours. (This tip applies to areas going into their winter season-temperatures dropping below freezing: 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.) If there is a prolonged thaw in mid-winter it may be time to re-apply anti-desiccant spray to your broad leaf evergreens, especially if there are more prolonged freezing temperatures on the way. For more detailed information go to: Winterizing-Evergreens-Anti-Desiccant-Spray
Frost Heaving: In freezing temperatures soil around your plants may be subject to frost heaving. This is when ice forms underneath the soil and expands upwards from the ground causing plants such as perennials to push upwards exposing the crown. Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Liriope are especially prone to this type of damage. As a preventive measure apply mulch finishing to your garden beds. To remedy, slightly tap the soil back down, and brush the mulch back around the exposed crown of the plant to protect it from the cold.
Ice Damage to Branches: As winter progresses there is an increased threat of snow and ice build up on the branches of trees and shrubs in the landscape. If snow piles up on your evergreens try to carefully brush it away removing the excess weight from the branches. If the snow does not remove easily do not shake the branches. This can cause breakage and damage. If the tree or shrub is covered with ice permit nature to take its course and allow the ice to melt naturally. If your landscape does suffer any damage from winter storms it is recommended to remove any broken limbs to avoid stress and disease to the plant. This can be done when the weather allows.
I am hoping that you find these tips to be helpful. Gardening does continue throughout fall and winter and some simple preparation can go a long way especially in areas where winters are harsh. I for one have found these techniques to be very worthwhile and productive over the years. For further reading you can also visit Winter Gardening: 12 Helpful Tips.
As Always...Happy Gardening!
Author:Lee@ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved