Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Winter’

More fall leaves...

More fall leaves… (Photo credit: life is good (pete))

Though the season seemed endless, the recent cold snap has convinced even the die-hard gardeners that fall is well under way.  Winter is around the corner, so before the holidays distract you and chill days drive you indoors, take advantage of the lingering warmth to tuck the landscape in to bed.

 Here are a few suggestions for helping your garden head into winter:

 Wrap young trees.  With a few moments out of your busy schedule, wrapping a young tree to tuck it in for winter is an easy way to keep your sapling strong.

 Winter can be a rollercoaster of warm days and cold nights, which wreak havoc on young, thin barked trees that have not grown old enough to form protective corky bark. Sun hitting trunks on south and west sides warms the bark and cells underneath, causing them to lose their cold protection.  As nighttime temperatures plunge, these cells freeze and burst, resulting in sunscald on the trunk, an area that will be prone to disease in summer.

 Sapling fruit trees are vulnerable to sunscald, as well as lindens, honeylocusts, ashes, oaks, maples, and willows.  Protect them for the first two to three years they’re in your landscape by wrapping them with tree wrap in early in November.

 Wrap from the ground upward, overlapping each layer over the lower one by one-half-inch until you reach the lowest branch.  Use tape to hold the wrap in place, making sure the tape doesn’t stick to the trunk.

 Mulch perennial beds.  Leaves make an excellent blanket for protecting perennials and woody plants from the ravages of winter.  In Colorado, thawing and freezing can lift roots, but covering the soil with a four to six-inch layer of leaves will keep temperatures consistently cool.

 If the leaves are from trees that aren’t diseased, pile them up around your plants and let the ones that blow into the beds settle there for winter.  In spring, rake the leaves out and put them in your compost pile.

 Compost rotting, dead plants to convert them to organic material that, tilled into the soil, holds water and nutrients for roots to take up.  This is a great soil amendment to have on hand in spring.

 To build a compost pile:

–          Select an out-of-the-way area at least 4-by 4-feet wide.

–          Gather together both green and brown plant material – you’ll need twice as much brown material as green.

–          For faster composting, chop the plants into small chunks before mixing them into the pile.

–          Layer brown and green material into a pile, adding water with each layer until the pile feels damp, like a sponge.  If the pile is soggy to soaking, add more material in until it dries a little.

–          The compost should heat up within a week and be very warm to the touch.  Once it begins to cool, turn it from the outside in and sprinkle with more water to recharge the microorganisms.

–          When the compost no longer heats up after turning, looks like crumbled humus and has an earthy smell, it’s ready to be added to your soil.

 Give trees and shrubs one last, big drink.  Research has shown that the best thing to do for trees and shrubs as they head into winter is to give them a deep soaking before the ground freezes.  This helps prevent winter desiccation of branches, needles, or evergreen leaves, so for good woody plant health, give them a last soaking when temperatures are warm.  Be sure to disconnect the hose from the faucet once you’ve finished watering.

Read Full Post »

Heading into winter is when many people forget about yard care, putting the lawnmower away for the season. We fill our time cleaning the house, scrubbing the nooks and crannies we ignored in favor of being outside. But after a summer of heat, a fall of drought and a winter that’s slow in arriving, your lawn needs a little coddling to keep it healthy until spring.

The ability of turf to survive winter depends on healthy root systems. The stresses of summer often take their toll on roots, which need to regenerate in fall during cooler weather. To help lawns recover, fertilize now.

Late season application of nitrogen is recommended for Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue or Perennial Rye. Fertilize by applying 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet during the first week of November, while the grass is still green and the ground isn’t frozen (if you have sandy soils, don’t fertilize after September). With the warmth lingering late this year, lawns will get the benefit of a slow cool down of the soil, which will give fertilizer the chance to help roots regrow.

Nitrogen is the most important food to feed the turf – extra potassium or phosphorus is not as critical. At this time, nitrogen in the fertilizer should be from sources such as urea, ammonium sulfate or others that don’t need microbes in the soil to release them. Soil microbes slow their activity during cold weather, which may delay release of
nitrogen to the plants, making the late application unsuccessful.

For quick benefit to plants, make sure the soil is moist, which helps the nitrogen dissolve easily. If the ground is dry, irrigate a day before fertilizing. But if you’ve already blown out your system for the winter, apply fertilizer just after one of our rain squalls have passed through.

Then protect roots from drying out during winter by giving it a bit of water if we’re having a dry spell. Dry soils can lead to dieback of the root system, which will limit the top growth of turf during the growing season.

Typically, lawns benefit from watering once every four weeks if we are not getting much rain or snow fall. Keep tabs on how much rain or snow falls at your house – not across town or in Denver where the TV stations are located – and water your lawns when we don’t get 1 inch of water, cumulative, over four weeks.

The late fertilization means lawns will green up early in the spring but not put on a lot of top growth, saving you the effort of mowing before you’re ready to swing into summer chores. Keep in mind that the March-April application may not be needed if you fertilized in November the previous year. As long as the turf greens up and grows, delay fertilizing until May or June.

Read Full Post »