When the sun is shining on a mild winter’s day, many of us are looking out our windows and asking ourselves, “Is there anything I should be doing to my lawn?” Besides checking Craiglist and Facebook Marketplace for good deals on lawn equipment, there is not a lot you need to be doing. However, if you have a busy lifestyle and have just not had the time to get all your lawn preparations checked off, a sunny, mild day in winter is a great time to get them completed. Here are a few reminders for the next break in the weather.
Preparing Your Lawn for Winter Dormancy
- Time to get those last few leaves composted, mulched or removed from the lawn before the snow season arrives. Heavy piles of unmulched leaves block sunlight, air movement, and moisture to the soil. A thin layer of mulched leaves is good, but it must be thin enough to allow the sun, air, and water to reach the grass.
- Mulched leaves won’t supply enough nutrients needed for healthy turf. Apply Snowman, winter root builder on a day when the ground is not frozen. Snowman winter fertilizer is low nitrogen with added phosphorous and potash for root growth and disease resistance. Grass roots will continue to grow till the soil is frozen hard.
- Salt from ice melter used on roads, driveways and sidewalks can cause serious damage to grass, trees, and small shrubs. Now is the time to apply an application of Grass Pad’s Lawn Cal containing beneficial lawn calcium. Calcium can play a physiological role in recovering sodic soil as well as improving the soil structure to allow sodium to leach from the soil.
- Dormant seeding thin and bare areas in the lawn can start now.
See Related: Snowman Key to Lawn Domination
Preparing Trees and Shrubs for Winter
- Prune or cut off any dead growth from trees and shrubs to discourage insects who choose to hide there for the winter. Remove branches that overlap and rub against each other.
- Avoid pruning spring flowering shrubs such as lilac, azalea, and certain hydrangea. These shrubs form their spring flower buds over late summer and fall. Any pruning of these shrubs, though not life threatening, will be removing spring flowers. Prune spring flowering shrubs after the bloom petals have fallen next spring.
- Dormant oil can be applied on a mild day above 40 degrees. Use over burning bush, euonymous, pines or spruce to control scale and other insect eggs, such as spider mites.
- Protect young trees from animals by wrapping stem or trunks with wire mesh. Smooth bark trees such as Red maples should be protected with tree wrap to prevent winter sun scalding.
Preparing Perennial Gardens for Winter
- Cut back dry stems to soil level to prevent rotting in flower beds.
- Procrastinators, if you have not planted your tulips, daffodils, crocus, and hyacinth get them into the ground soon. The ground is still workable now, but it won’t be long before we have a frozen tundra.
- Mulch flower beds once extreme cold weather arrives. Adding a fresh layer of mulch around plantings will give the landscape a neat and tidy appearance while keeping the temperatures around the plants consistent. Mulch will hold moisture in the soil, which is one of the most important parts of fighting winter stress.
Garden Tools Need Attention
- Oil garden hand tools to extend their life. A thin layer of vegetable oil will help to protect your shovels, spades, axes and hoes from moisture and winter rust.
- Extend the life of your garden hoses by storing them in the shed, garage or basement.
Feeders for the Birds
- Clean bird feeders each season.
- Bird houses provide shelter from the weather and a haven from cats and other predators.
- As temperatures fall, high fat, high-calorie suet is the perfect food to help birds get through long cold nights.
- Keep a low level of fresh water in a clean bird bath. A bird bath heater will keep the water from freezing.
See Related: Bird Feeders and Bird Seed