Though winter is not a very active time for your landscape, attention to your grass, plants, and trees is no less important. The winter is an ideal time to prepare your landscape for next year’s growing season. Just as your yard has four distinct seasons of growth and rest, it has four distinct seasons of landscape maintenance. These are three things that your yard will need this winter.
Dormant Pruning on Trees and Shrubs
Winter can be a prime time for pruning. The leaves are long gone and most woody plants are dormant. Pruning during the dormant season stimulates many trees and shrubs because it leaves the plants with extra root and energy reserves that will support new growth on the left behind branches. Dormant-season pruning is easier for you too. You can see the branches more clearly without leaves in the way.
Cut Back Perennials and Ornamental Grasses
Many of the plants in your landscape will benefit from you taking the time to make sure they’re trimmed properly before winter hits. All of your perennials and tall ornamental grasses (like Karl Foerster grass) can be cut back pretty dramatically. Even your smaller ornamental grasses and perennials (like dwarf fountain grass or liriope) can be cut back this time of year. This healthy pruning, done properly, allows these landscape plants to retain their shape when they push new growth the following spring.
There are certain plants that should NOT be cut back in the fall. Specifically, shrubs that bloom in spring, such as lilac, forsythia, azaleas, rhododendrons, and some viburnum. These plants should be trimmed immediately after bloom (think early June here in Central PA), so their flowers aren’t accidentally pruned off.
Clean Up Leaves and Debris
While this one may seem obvious, you’d be surprised by the number of homeowners that do not recognize the impact this one task can have on the health of their landscape. When leaves and debris pile too high in your landscape beds, leaf litter can simply foster a whole host of issues. They become common places for diseases and pests to overwinter in your yard. In winter months, when sunlight, airflow, and regular moisture are lower than spring and fall, your plants are already under stress. Why increase the risk of stress by adding too much leaf litter to the base of your plants? The less hospitable you can make the garden for winter hardy pests, the fewer problems you’ll have come spring.
Besides the concern for your landscape beds, there are considerations for your lawn. Leaves laying on the lawn, prevent sunlight from getting to that section of turf, which can kill it. And repeatedly allowing leaves to break down can begin to affect the pH of the soil, making it more acidic.
Landscape maintenance is a four-season activity. Just as you prepared for summer in your spring landscape maintenance, so in winter you need to prepare for what spring will bring. Starting now will help to ensure that your spring yard will look the best it has ever been. And, as always, if you want a little help in keeping your yard in top-shape from season to season you can count on PA Landscape Group’s maintenance services.