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Helping your Garden Survive & Thrive this Winter

by Joy Kieffer

Just because the grass stops growing and the leaves fall from the trees doesn’t mean garden fun needs to cease. Fresh air and exercise will keep your body warm and healthy. Getting out in God’s creation is one of the best ways to improve your outlook and sense of youthful wonder. There are things to see in the winter that you never notice when the world is green.

 

Here a just a few things to do out there in winter and why:

 

  • Pruning - There is no reason that you can’t prune back shrubs and trees that you didn’t find time for in the fall. Usually fall or early spring is the best time to prune, depending on the plant, but that’s a lot like the “best by” dates on food.

  • Removing weed trees, shrubs and vines is much easier after the leaves have fallen - Not surprisingly, weeds seem to continue to grow through the winter, while our favorite plants do not. In reality any hardy tree, shrub or vine will continue to grow, just more slowly.

  • Hardscaping - The placement of stones, benches, etc can just as easily be accomplished in the winter, with the exception of working with concrete. And there are special concrete formulations for cold weather. Any temperature extremes are difficult to work in, either very high or very low. But we have plenty of days in the 50’s when you can work without becoming drenched in sweat.

  • Protect tender and young plants by wrapping them in burlap or other materials.

  • Mulch a bit more for winter to prevent plants from heaving out of the ground. This happens more often to young plants, but any are susceptible.

  • Tie slack lines around young tree trunks, pegged to the ground, to prevent them from blowing over in the fierce winds of winter.

  • If you didn’t get around to cleaning out the gutters, it’s not too late.

  • Water! Especially those trees and shrubs in their first year in the ground. After the first year, watch out for long periods without precipitation, high winds and extremely low temperatures. All of those things can cause dehydration. A gallon or so of water once for each week with no snow or rain is needed by first year trees.

  • Try your hand at Bonsai - Before the ground freezes hard, dig up a shrub with potential. Maybe you have one that simply hasn’t shaped up like you’d hoped. It might be ideal for a severe pruning of both roots and branches to become that wonderfully quirky Bonsai.

  • Go scrounging for fun finds - There might still be seeds and seed pods to find, rocks, stones and unique branches, burls on tree roots and mushrooms, the list is endless!

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