Winters are short around the Southwest. Many folks won’t shut off the A/C unit until mid-November. Winter can be a hard time for gardens and gardeners but here are a few winter gardening tips that will help your plants and your garden landscape survive the cold winter months. Here are my “Gardening tips in cold weather”.
Trees, Shrubs and Flowers
It is important that you dig over the soil in the winter with a shovel to keep the soil loose and loamy. This will help the soil so that you can add in fertilizer and remove any weeds when early spring comes around. It also helps the structure of the soil over the winter months making it ready to provide you with beautiful plants, vegetables or anything else you might be planning for the following year.
Shrubs and trees can be pruned during the winter time. There are several reasons why this is a good time.
- It is a lot easier to visualize what your tree will look like in spring when it does not have foliage.
- The cleanup debris is smaller.
- Your shrubs will have “less stress” when you have to do lots of pruning.
- Maintenance landscapers will typically charge less during the winter months.
Rose Care During Winter
Early winter is a good time to prune roses. They can be shaped and pruned quite quickly and easily.
First remove and dead head all expired blooms, then remove any branches which have signs of disease, prune dead branches and those which are touching each other.
Long branches should be cut back so that they only have around about 1/3 of their length remaining.
Do not prune roses just for the sake of pruning. There should always be a reason(s) for pruning.
Winterizing your Lawn
You should observe your lawn thoroughly before winter sets in. It is also a good idea to rake up any dead leaves or other debris so that your lawn won’t have dead patches the following spring.
Check for lawn thatch. Rake out dead or dying grass blades. Garden tools, rocks, toys, lawn furniture will damage your grass (except Bermuda grasses) if not removed or placed elsewhere.
Mow your lawn less frequently as winter approaches so that it isn’t left too short when the frost arrives. It’s also a good idea to feed or fertilize the lawn one last time before the winter. A good 16-8-8 analysis will work great.
Another good idea is to use a lawn winterizer. This type of fertilizer is safe to use during the cold months. Once or twice should do it. Preferably in early November. Ask for it at your local gardening store.
Gardening tips in cold weather
Bring in any container plants which may need to be protected from the first hard freeze or frost. If you don’t have the space in your home then place them in the greenhouse, the garage, potting shed or a well-protected porch.
Clean and remove weeds or moss from the garden path. This will help to enhance the overall appearance of your garden and prevent it from becoming too slippery when it is cold and wet.
Don’t forget about the birds and the wildlife during the winter too. Winter is a difficult time for plants, birds, and wildlife. Many natural water resources will freeze over during the harshest winter so remember to provide a water feature, pond or birdbath which will remain free of ice.
One trick is to throw a ball onto the surface of the water pond or birdbath and when it freezes remove the ball this will create a small, ice-free watering hole for birds. It is important to note that water fountains will crack if they are not drained before the first freeze!
Gardening in Cold Weather
There isn’t much going on during mid-winter in the southwest. However, it is a good idea to go out during mid-winter to check on frozen watering systems and observing your plants. Most established trees and shrubs only need water about twice per month in winter.
Most plants, trees, and shrubs will stop growing but the root systems will actually thrive during this time period. It is really a case of keeping the garden clean and tidy and protecting any plants which need to be protected.
A properly prepared garden in winter will help ensure fresh plants and greenery during the following spring and summer. The work that you do before the winter sets in will certainly reap rewards in just a few months.
If you have questions or comments please post them below.
Author: Paul Guzman
Paul Guzman – General Manager of Guzman’s Greenhouse. Gardener, Husband, Father and Grandfather. Webmaster of Guzmansgreenhouse.com