By Pam Rosendal, Colorado Master Gardener
With the days growing shorter and cooler, you’ve earned a break from yard and garden chores. Before settling down for winter, follow these tips for simple things to do to keep your landscape healthy during the winter months and avoid more serious problems next year.
Leaves can help your landscape. If there aren’t many (10-20% of lawn covered), mulch them with a mower to provide beneficial nutrients for your lawn. Tuck leaves under shrubs, around roses and scatter them in flower beds to protect plants from drastic temperature changes often seen during winter. Compost the rest. Diseased leaves should be removed from the landscape to avoid reinfection. Do not compost or mulch with them.
Leave perennial plants and flowers standing. They will be hardier over the winter, especially some sages and hummingbird mint, that are living at the edge of their cold hardiness. Seed bearing perennials such as purple coneflower, blanket flower and ornamental grasses provide beneficial winter food and shelter for birds and other wildlife.
Speaking of birds, disease can easily spread among them when visiting feeders and birdbaths. To keep our feathered friends healthy, it’s important to routinely clean feeders and birdbaths year-round. Consider adding a heater to a birdbath to offer needed fresh water even on the coldest days.
Wrap trunks of thin-barked and new trees with brown crepe paper wrap, available at garden centers, to prevent sunscald and frost cracks. Late winter is an ideal time to prune mature fruit trees. Don’t forget to take it off in the spring.
Most importantly, plan to water your lawn, perennials, trees and shrubs during dry winter months. Check out these articles and videos explaining the how-to’s of winter watering. Applying anti-transpirant sprays to your evergreens will help reduce winter burn caused by cold, dry winter days.
Best of all, spend time with favorite seed catalogs and gardening websites dreaming about spring.