Is Your Yard Ready to Hibernate?
(Getting Landscapes Ready for Winter)
Well the upper mountains are showing snowcaps but it still feels like fall here in Southeast Idaho. These next couple of weeks are a perfect window to make sure our landscapes have the best chance possible to make it through the winter unscathed. So just like when a bear layers on the fat to prepare for his long winter there are a couple of things we should be doing to get our landscapes ready for the same. Our main categories to prepare your winter yard will be the lawn/ general maintenance, shrub beds and trees.
– Adjust the lawn mower to a lower setting(still high enough to avoid scalping) and use the bag attachment if possible. This will help to prevent snow molds that can develop on long grass blades when they are under a constant snow cover.
– Rake up leaves and any other fallen organic matter(branches, flower heads etc…) that has blown onto the lawn as these can also provide the starting grounds for bacterial cultivation when insulated under snow cover. A side benefit is that it will make the spring clean-up go much quicker.
– This is also a perfect time to get a head start on any bare patches. We recommend purchasing a high quality grass seed blend and hand spreading it into those unsightly patches. When the snow melts and spring rains come these seeds will have a better chance to get roots in place before the weeds start to attempt a move in.
– Turn off water to the outside of the house, put away hoses, cover spigots and winterize any sprinkler systems
– Dig up and separate any spring/ summer blooming bulbs that have become too dense or overgrown. Now is also the time to plant any new bulbs you have in mind for next year’s flower show.
– Check your mulch layer. The bulk of most trees and shrubs have their root systems in the top six inches of soil. A good two inch mulch layer goes a long way to insulating those tender feeder roots from freezing and dieback. Make sure the mulch is also kept 2 inches away from any trunks or woody stems as this can lead to rot/ burrowing and girdling from rodents.
– We can spend a whole blog talking about roses but the key points for any sensitive plants is to avoid stimulating new growth and to insulate from the cold. It is perfectly acceptable(and advisable) to trim out any dead branches your roses may have. You simply want to shy away from any major pruning or deadheading as this will stimulate the plant to use up stored energy putting out tender new growth. The point is to insulate to help prevent freezing. There are multiple ways to accomplish this but the one we recommend is to erect some form of screen out of wire fencing or burlap around the plant and fill with a light leaf type mulch. In many cases it is best to wait until after the first freeze to do this to lessen the odds of rodents burrowing into the mulch and girdling the plant.
– Now is the perfect time to add in any new trees to your landscape or to transplant any existing trees. The benefits of a late fall transplant are that the temperatures are cooler but the ground has not frozen so solid that digging the hole is completely miserable.
– If you have any sensitive evergreens, Alberta Spruce, Boxwoods etc. it is best to wrap them with a cloth or burlap. These plants can be extremely susceptible to desiccation and freezing from cold dry winds as well as scorching from reflected snow glare.
– Any thin barked/ young trees need to have their trunks wrapped with any type of light colored cloth/ burlap. Thin barked trees will crack when one side of their trunks thaws/ expands from the warmth of the sun while their other side remains cold/ shaded.
This is by no means a perfectly comprehensive list of everything you can do to prepare your landscape for a hard winter but we hope that it gives you a good place to start!
We are happy to give a free estimate on what it would take to help your landscape! Please feel free to give our office a call at (208)523-5296!