Cyclone Rake Blog: January 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

Winter Yard Care


Winter is no time to ignore caring for your yard and landscape. Winter storms and winds can down tree branches, limbs or even whole trees; excess snow can damage plants and cause turf damage; snow and ice can damage plants and shrubs. Here are some tips to help your landscape through the winter and recover into its spring glory.

Plan, Practice Pruning

Mid-winter starts the season for pruning. The ideal time for pruning many trees, shrubs and landscape plants starts now – but remember, that timing varies by species and region. Some plants are best pruned nearer spring.

You don’t have to be a professional to prune. A first priority is removing “dead wood,” any dead or diseased branches that can harbor more disease and attract pests. Winter storms may bring down branches and snow may break down shrubs; consult with a garden guide or your local Extension office to find out the best course of action for any damaged plants. Trimming and pruning may need to happen right after the damage, as well as later toward spring.

If you suspect winter damage has killed shrubs or flowers, wait before pruning; plants are resilient, and they may surprise you by coming back. And enjoy the time outdoors while pruning – but take care, especially if pruning trees, to avoid slipping in wintry conditions.

Keep it Clear

Excess snow can weigh down trees and shrubs, and that gives you another chance to get outside this winter to gently shake branches free. A broom can be a good tool for helping free the weight of snow, according to the University of Maryland Extension service. Take care not to damage or break branches while removing snow.

Piles of snow on lawns can bring unwelcome spots later from snow mold. Gray and pink snow molds are fungi that start growing underneath snow in winter, creating unseemly lawn circles in spring. Avoid piling snow in the yard, if possible. Especially avoid throwing snow that may have salt or other ice-reducers into the yard.

It’s not too late to clean plant debris out of the corner of the garden bed you may have missed this fall. Winter winds may bring unwelcome debris or trash to your yard. Monitor your property for any excess trash and other debris.

Don’t Forget Water

In warmer zones, especially, plants may get thirsty amid freezing temperatures if the soil has dried out or remains frozen around the plants. The University of Florida advises, “Watering the area can help defrost the soil and provide your plants with an available source of moisture. Even injured plants need water.”

Find more tips about winter landscape damage and yard care from your local Extension service, or by reviewing these fact sheets we consulted from universities in Maryland, Illinois, Florida and Minnesota:

Winter Pruning
http://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/newsdetail.cfm?NewsID=13061
Winter Plant Damage
http://extension.umd.edu/learn/winter-damage-landscape-plants
Snow Molds
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/lawns/snow-molds-in-lawns/
Cold Damage
http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/weather/treating-cold-damage.html