Lawn and Plant Care for Winter
Your lawn and plants may be dormant in the winter, but there are steps you can take to ensure that they will look their best come spring.
Remove anything from your lawn that could potentially smother the grass, or encourage disease and pests. To be healthy, grass needs to be exposed to sunlight, and debris, leaves, and toys act as obstacles. When it gets too long, grass itself can also cause these problems, so lower the height of your mower the last several times you use it before winter begins. .5″ – 1.0″ is a good range to keep in mind; any shorter and the grass won’t have enough protection from the elements. Even when snow provides a cover, foot traffic can damage grass; keep off the grass to protect your lawn. Follow these steps and take these precautions so you don’t have to worry about having a spring lawn plagued by brown, dead spots.
Dormant periods are ideal for pruning. Many perennials, shrubs, hedges and trees benefit from being cut back at this time. For instance, once the tops of dormant perennials have turned brown, they should be cut off. Both deciduous and evergreen trees also need to be trimmed in the winter, but such large plants are a bit more complicated. Proper pruning technique involves tree inspection and cutting back dying and decaying boughs. Calling an insured tree removal service may be preferable to doing this work yourself, as this process can require the removal of high branches as well as entire trees themselves. Hiring someone is worth it, however, since winter storms can cause dead limbs to fall, damaging your property.
Winter pruning is important, but heavy snow accumulation endangers healthy branches. Lighten a plant’s load by gently brushing snow off in an upward direction. Meanwhile, ice should be left alone so that it can melt naturally, as forcibly removing it can do more harm than good. Because of their loose branches, boxwoods and evergreen trees are especially vulnerable to damage caused by heavy snow. To protect them, tie up their branches before winter storms begin to rage. Even the wind can be a hazard; take the time to secure delicate plants such as climbing roses.
Healthy lawns and plants require well-maintained equipment. For example, water systems need to be winterized before snow begins to fall. To do this, ensure that water spigots have been turned off and covered. Any extra chemicals should be stored in a location where they can’t freeze. Another liquid that needs attention is gas, which needs to be emptied from lawn and garden equipment. During the winter, leftover gas can get gummed up in motorized equipment that’s no longer being used regularly. Garden tools become dull after a long year of gardening, so take the opportunity to sharpen them now that many of your plants are entering their dormant periods. Rust threatens to damage tools even after they’ve been put away for the winter. Applying linseed oil to wooden handles and wiping metal blades with oily cloths can stop this from happening, ensuring that your tools will be in top condition when you retrieve them in the spring.