Winter Yard and Garden To-Do List
When picking out New Year resolutions, most people choose things they can start right away – exercising, a diet or quitting smoking. Unfortunately, spending more time in the garden is not often on the list.
Well, if you’re a yard enthusiast, there’s no reason to wait until spring to get back into the garden. There are many wintertime yard and garden chores you can do to minimize the amount of work you’ll have come spring. The following are some things to do around your yard this month in preparation for spring.
Many people prune their large trees and shrubs before winter in anticipation of harsh storms. While that’s all well and good, there is something to be said for pruning throughout the season. Pruning dormant trees and shrubs in January and February will prepare them for budding in the spring. Be careful not to prune early-flowering shrubs, though – waiting until after their first bloom will make for a fuller bloom.
Planting certain seeds and bulbs in winter is a great way to get a jump on spring gardening. If your climate is right, plant summer and fall flowering bulbs, spring annuals and roses. If it’s too cold outside for winter planting, try sowing seeds in trays indoors. By the time they are ready for planting, the weather will be warm enough to support them.
There isn’t a lot you can do to lawns during the winter, but there are a few maintenance chores to address. If you notice actively growing weeds, especially broadleaf ones, apply a post-emergence weed controller immediately. Also, make sure there isn’t a lot of traffic on frozen grass – don’t walk, drive or play on it.
Winter is a surprisingly good time to perform basic maintenance on wood fencing. Regularly clean off mud and debris to prevent wood rot. If your fence has been through a rough storm, or if you think bad weather is headed your way, now is the time to secure posts and loose wood fence boards. This can be done by reinforcing posts with solid wood braces and securing boards with galvanized nails. Of course, if any of your fencing material is damaged beyond repair, replace it.
Like wood fence maintenance, deck maintenance during the winter can extend the life of your decking and reduce the amount of work you have to do in the spring. Cleaning leaves and yard debris off your decking is key, as rotting debris is a major source of decay. Be sure to also inspect for and repair loose boards – you don’t want an accident when it’s finally time to use the deck again.
In addition to cleaning and repairing your wood fencing and decking materials, there are a number of basic yard maintenance chores to do during the winter. Continuously remove dead plants and debris, such as leaves, and place them on a compost pile or bin. If the weather is cooperating, install downspouts and drainage pipes and point them away from your garden. Clean out the gutters on a regular basis, as overflowing gutters can cause major roof problems. If you have a large garden, or will be planting sensitive plants in the spring, have you soil tested to make sure it doesn’t need supplements.
Of course, one of the biggest winter yard chores is simply preparing for spring. Check your tools to make sure they are all functioning properly. If needed, oil and repair them to keep them in working condition.
If you plan on a big renovation or landscaping project, buying supplies now can save you time and money. Be careful, though – plants, bulbs and even wood decking and fencing are all susceptible to shifts in temperature and humidity, so keep them in a warm, dry location. Winter is also a great time to clean pots, planters and furniture you will be using in the spring and summer. Allowing dirt to remain on patio furniture and planters all winter can cause stains and decay.
Finally, make plans for your spring and summer garden. Attend a gardening club and gather ideas from members. Make lists of plants you’d like to put in the ground when the weather improves. Get excited about all the fun you’ll have when once winter has come and gone.