Old Man Winters’ arrival doesn’t mean that the Winter garden can be neglected. Keeping the garden on an even footing against the ravages that winter can bring is ongoing. Neglecting proper garden closing chores and winter maintenance tasks is only a recipe for a headache in the spring. Follow a few of these winter garden tips and a bountiful spring will be waiting in a few months time.
Setting the winter garden table
An interesting to look at and healthy winter garden depends upon taking steps in the late fall or early winter. Clean up the garden. Make sure that any garden trash is picked up before the snow flies. If this “trash” is left behind it presents an opportunity for bacteria to find its way into any cuts in the plant or onto the plant’s roots. Bacteria growth, and possible disease, on the plant, is the biggest danger to a winter garden.
Watch out for color when trimming
If you have had your garden for at least one winter season you know what has color during winter and what does not. Trim this color judiciously looking for maverick branches, but be sure to keep the overall form of the shrub so that winter color can shine in a uniform way. If you are not sure, leave it alone and get a feel for what has winter color for next winter. If a shrub has a winter bud on it, leave it be as this is where the flower will come from next spring.
Trim out the cut or torn limbs
Chances are that a torn or cut (looks like a knife cutting into an apple about an eighth of an inch deep) limb will end up dangling, or on the ground, as winter progresses. Take care of it early and your garden will look sturdy and ready for whatever the winter has to offer. Look for a nodule on the limb (looks like a knuckle of sorts) and cut about one-quarter of an inch above it on an angle for a proper cut.
Weed to a clean ground
Weeds also present a messy problem through the winter. Not only will they decay and offer disease potential, but they will also continue to grow their roots until the ground freezes hard. This will only make them more invasive in the spring. Besides, if you weed to a clean ground you will have a nice clean contrast to the dormant plants in the garden.
A nice clean edge
Unless you are going for a more informal look, give a nice edge job to your garden flower beds before the ground freezes. Not only will this make for a crisp look during the winter months, as the edge freezes, but it will put you one step closer to a solid start in spring.
To wrap or not to wrap
If you look at many winter gardens you may notice that people have wrapped burlap or some other material around their evergreen shrubs. Generally, this is to prevent a snow load or high wind from damaging the plant. Unless you have the potential for a snow load or predictable high winds this is not necessarily needed. The wind issue is an issue, but remember that all plants need air circulation, no matter what type of plant they may be. If you wrap a shrub/plant to tightly air circulation will diminish and present the opportunity for moisture build-up and disease. If you wrap your shrubs make sure to do it securely but with air circulation in mind.
It cannot hurt to mound
Mounding around the base of a plant is intended to give the root systems of a shrub/plant a little extra insulation during hard winters. Depending upon which zone you happen to be gardening in the need for mounding rises and falls. In any case, you want to make sure that you compress the dirt of the mound with a firm push of the hands. This gets some of the air out of the mound and generally makes a mound of dirt look a bit nicer. It also shows that you took a little care in your gardening. This sometimes impresses people that visit your winter garden.
Trees are plants too
Take a few moments to assess your trees before the winter winds start to howl. Look for any branches that may have grown old, look to be growing across the desired vertical path of a properly trimmed tree, or have died during the season. What you are looking for is any limb or branch that may rub constantly on another opening a wound in the bark. Generally, you would not want to cut a branch as winter approaches, or during the winter months, but sometimes you need to.