Winter Landscape Maintenance Starts Now
Put on your warm woolly coats, hats and scarves and head outdoors for a quick clean up to avoid being overwhelmed this spring. A few hours set aside for pruning, composting and a basic clean up will decrease your work load when the daffodils start blooming.
What plants do we prune and how do we do it? First off, your pruners should be sharp enough not to tear the plant’s branches and limbs. A nice clean cut will prevent insect and disease problems in the future. Plants that are deciduous, (meaning they loose their leaves in the winter) and those that bloom in the summer should be pruned now. Without plant foliage being attached provides a clearer picture of what needs to be removed. Some trees and shrubs blooming in the summer are: crape myrtle trees and shrubs, butterfly bushes, rose of sharon, vitex, and certain varieties of viburnum. Any branches that are crossing or touching need to be pruned out.
The friction of the 2 branches make it very easy for insects to camp out and feed on your beautiful plants. This is also the ideal time to shape up your trees and get rid of weak branches and limbs. When 2 branches appear to make a 90 degree angle, it is a very strong branch. If it looks to be 30 degrees or less, prune it out. One good ice storm and the branch will break off. Take a step back and really look at the shape of your deciduous trees. Thin out all the tiny branches starting to grow towards the middle of the tree. Pruning the small twigs now will save you time and money before they are given the chance to put on significant growth. Your trees should have beautiful form, even in the winter months.
The pruned limbs could be brought indoors for your dried flower arrangements.
A few plants that you should not prune or shear are those that flower in the spring. If by accident you have, this won’t kill the plant, they just won’t bloom in the spring. Plants to avoid pruning or shearing are azaleas and rhododendrons.
*Just remember, pruning a shrub or tree just after is has finished blooming is safe.
Other non-blooming evergreen plants can be sheared and shaped up during the winter are: dwarf alberta spruce, chindo viburnum and holly shrubs.
If you did not remove the summer annuals like impatiens, periwinkle or begonias, do so now. Knock off as much soil and toss your old annuals into your compost pile. If you do not have a pile just dedicate an area for your decomposing plants that is out of sight and cover with pine needles.
Are Deer munching on your plants? Deer are feeding from January until April and they aren’t too choosy. Keep applying deer repellent and next spring think about installing plants deer don’t particularly care for. Some plant ideas would be rosemary, lavender, butterfly bushes, junipers, itea, rose of sharon, or abelia.
Bundle up for the clean up!
Diana Gardner-Williams www.dianadigsdirt.com
Landscape Design and Installation