Although it’s a little hard to tell from the weather we’ve been having lately here in Nashville, winter officially arrives on December 21st. As you probably know, this is also known as the winter solstice and is the shortest day of the year as the sun reaches its most southern point in the sky at noon. After this date, the days start getting longer.
With colder weather setting in, most folks have put up their garden gear and have settled down for a “long winters nap” so to speak. Personally, we love the down time and don’t mind the cold snowy weather!
But as horticulturalist, we want to remind you that there are still a few projects to tend to in the garden during the winter months to keep your landscape healthy throughout the season. Below you’ll find some of the most important task for preparing your landscape for winter.
1. Periodically Check Perennial Beds
Occasionally check perennial beds to make sure that no perennials or ornamental grasses have been heaved out of the ground by alternate freezing and thawing of the soil (see # 5 for how to prevent this). If you do find them, simply scoop out the soil with your hand and firmly replace the plant in the ground. Then replace the mulch around the plant. If mulch has gotten thin, add more so that it’s about 3 inches deep.
2. Keep Deicing Salt off Plants
Try to keep any deicing salt away from the roots of shrubs and trees as it can cause damage to them. If your favorite tree or shrubs are right next to the front walkway or driveway, consider using the more environmentally friendly magnesium chloride or calcium acetate.
3. Winter Tree Care
January is the perfect time to take a look at your trees and see what you might want to change for the coming year. Does an old diseased tree need to come down? Is it dumping tons of leaves on your deck, patio or roof? Is it causing an area to be too shady? Need more shade on the western exposure of your home?
Now is the time to research potential replacements and discuss options with a professional landscaper. Putting the right tree in the right place will make all the difference to your enjoyment of your landscape in the future.
Winter is also the time to prune deciduous trees that need it as long as they are not ones that flower in winter or spring. In Nashville and Middle Tennessee, February is better than January for extensive pruning because the trees start flowering not too long afterward and therefore recover more quickly.
If you do need to prune in January, from storm damaged limbs for instance, try to do it on a day that is above 25 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are unsure of how to prune correctly, it’s best to call in the professionals. At Acer Landscape Services, we have a team of highly qualified professionals that can help.
4. Start Looking Through Catalogs and make your “Garden Wish-List”
It seems like that by February, a new seed catalog comes in the mail almost everyday. Take some time and go through the pages and dream a little. Gardening is all about trying new things and having fun. One of our favorite seed catalogs is from The Seed Savers Exchange which is Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit (501(c)(3) status) organization dedicated to saving and sharing seeds.
You may also be a part of the Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange. All you need is your library card! You may “borrow seeds, grow plants and return seeds” in this wonderful program. For more information go to Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange.
5. Mulch Beds
Mulch is able to help keep the soil at a stable temperature during the winter and prevents roots from heaving out of the ground, which can happen during the alternating freezing and thawing periods. At Acer we recommend about 2 to 3 inches of mulch be added to perennial beds in the fall or winter to prevent this. In our own garden, we have found that lavender plants are especially susceptible to this and may not survive.
You will be well rewarded come spring by preparing your landscape for the winter months. If you live in the Nashville, Tn area and need any advice on any part of your landscape, please call us at 615-350-8030 or fill out our contact form online
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