Spotlight Service: Early Winter Landscape Maintenance
BY FRANK STEWART, LANDSCAPE MANAGER
It is still hard to believe that all of summer and most of autumn has come and gone. I know that I am not alone in feeling that the season has flown by. Nonetheless, we find ourselves approaching winter. It is time to think about early winter landscape maintenance.
In past articles we have discussed the number of visits by your landscaper per year required for optimal landscape maintenance. Ideally, a schedule would include spring clean-up, summer pruning, fall clean-up and dormant winter pruning. I would like to list some of the activities to be performed in late fall/ early winter maintenance:
• Leaf removal: In beds, rake out leaves that are piled up at the base of plants. There is a potential for development of harmful fungus at the crown of the plant. Stockpile the leaves for composting. We suggest good, sharp mulching mower blades to chop up the leaves on the lawn. If the leaf drop is not too heavy, the chopped-up leaves can be left to compost right on the lawn. If you have a lot of leaves and use the bagger to collect them, definitely save this material for the compost pile. Composted leaves make an excellent top-dressing for garden beds.
• Inspect trees and shrubs for drought damage and storm damage. Our rain-less period surely lasted long enough to stress weak plants beyond the point of no return. This is a good time to remove dead or damaged material when you do not have the leaf canopy to deal with and you can clearly see the branching habits of the plant. Every dead or damaged plant that we remove goes directly to the compost pile.
• Physically pick bagworms (this is the one that makes an individual sac that often looks like a tiny Pine cone) to remove them from your evergreen trees. The sacs may feel empty but the female’s sac can contain thousands of eggs that will disperse in late spring to become new bagworms. To dispose of them, they can be rolled in shredded coconut and lightly toasted. Yum! Just kidding, I like to actually burn them in a small fire to prevent the distribution of the eggs.
• Prepare the planting hole for your living Christmas tree while the ground is still unfrozen.
• It is not too late to plant bulbs. Add some deer-resistant Narcissus to enjoy in early spring. There are few plants that will give you more bang for the buck.
Whatever number you are thinking about planting, double it, and toss them on the ground in established beds. Plant them where they fall for a naturalized appearance. Three times the height of the bulb is generally a good depth. Planting at slightly different depths will extend the bloom period.
• Apply Marvin’s Organic 3-3-3 to trees, shrubs and perennials, and the lawn as well if you have not done it yet.
• Winterize water features. The pump in a pond with fish should run constantly through out the winter and provides some really interesting ice art in the waterfall. The pump can be removed from a “pondless” water feature and kept above freezing submerged in a bucket of water. Use the pump from your features with a basin to remove most of the water from the basin. As long as there is room for expansion, they should be fine. Irrigation systems should be shut down and drained for the winter.
• Apply deer repellents to plants that deer may be tempted to visit during the winter months when their more favored food sources are not available.
• Apply anti-dessicant spray (Wilt-pruf) to Rhododendrons, Holly and other evergreen plants susceptible to winter dessication.
Finally, apply a nice light layer of protective mulch in all landscaped beds. This will help to regulate soil temperature and hold moisture. It also helps to neaten up the appearance of beds where you have been doing all of the other work that we just discussed. Last year’s shredded and composted leaves would be perfect for this.
Have a questions? Call the landscaping department at Marvin’s Organic Gardens.