It’s not officially winter yet, but it is a great time to start planning for your garden’s winter maintenance needs. In the last few weeks the leaves have fallen from the trees, making it a great time to mulch. Winter mulching gives your plants extra insulation against the coldest months of the year, while also giving your yard a fresh neat look for winter visitors. Mulching in the winter is also a good way to get a head start on next season’s yard work.
Winter is also a great time to prune trees and shrubs. Plants without their leaves show their underlying structure, this makes it easier to see where to make the best cuts. For many plants winter is also the healthiest time to prune – many summer blooming plants as well as many varieties of conifers prefer to be pruned during dormancy.
Even though dormant, the winter garden has a special appeal. Perennials and ornamental grasses dry as the temperatures drop, but still provide structure and seasonal interest. Many of these plants also provide valuable seeds and berries to support winter wildlife. Ilex verticillata – the native Winterberry Holly is a plant that shines in the winter.
Bright red berries grow along the stems of this plant, which can be left for the birds to eat, or cut and used as winter decorations. Take a fresh look at your garden once the leaves are down – you may see areas that could be benefited with winter interest plants.
By February it is time to cut back all perennials and ornamental grasses. This type of pruning improves both the health and appearance of the plants as we move into spring. The dry tops of perennials can be cut just a few inches off the ground. Grasses can be similarly cut, and ideally this should be done before any green growth appears.
As you think about your winter gardening needs let us know if we can help!