When winter rolls around, it’s easy to relegate your lawn and garden to the back of your mind. After all, in most parts of the country, nothing is growing during the winter. However, just because everything has died doesn’t mean that there’s no work to be done. There are a number of tasks you can do during this time that are essential to a healthy and beautiful lawn and garden in the spring.Pruning
For most trees and shrubs, pruning should only be done during the winter when the plants are not in their active state of growth. This is especially true for fruit trees. Using clean, sharp pruners, remove branches that are rubbing together or those that present a hazard or obstruction. Keep the cut about an inch from the tree’s main trunk and coat the remaining stub with flat black spray paint or tree sealer. This is also a good time to trim perennials such as chrysanthemums, herbs, ornamental grasses, ferns and hostas. They should be cut back four to six inches from the ground. This ensures healthier, more vibrant growth come spring and saves you the tedium of having to work around the new leaves to remove the dead growth.
When it’s cold outside, your plants can benefit from a generous layer of mulch. The winter air is dry and can be hard on plants’ roots. Leaving the ground’s surface exposed can also reduce the quality of your soil by leaching nutrients out of it and upsetting its composition. It’s recommended that you spread a layer of mulch at least three inches deep over your flower beds and around shrubs to keep the weather out and moisture in. In addition to its protective qualities, the mulch will also break down somewhat during the winter and release valuable nutrients into the soil. Because this type of work is easier with fewer obstructions, you may want to wait until you’ve trimmed everything back for the season to apply your mulch.
While you’re cleaning up old growth on your plants, consider taking the time to remove those that are dead, diseased or unwanted. If they’re still alive, pulling them up now will be much easier than in the springtime when they’ve begun sending out new roots and foliage. If the plants are diseased, deal with them when it’s very cold and there is no active growth on nearby plants helps to prevent the spread of the illness. By getting rid of plants you simply don’t want anymore, you can pre-emptively free up space for more desirable ones to be planted when the weather warms up. This is also an opportune time to search out and remove any lingering weeds. If they’re hardy enough to survive the cold, you’ll want to nip them in the bud before they can reproduce.
Put Hoses Away
Hoses may be tough, but they’re not meant to be exposed to the harsh elements of winter. Leftover water, combined with freezing temperatures and dry air, can cause hoses to warp and crack, rendering it useless. When you’re finished with them for the season, drain out the excess water, roll them up and bring them inside.
Service Lawn Maintenance Equipment
Toward the last stretch of winter, it’s a good idea to start getting your mowers, weed whackers, chainsaws and other equipment prepared for use. Use a wire brush to remove rust and oil all of the moving parts. Blades should also be sharpened prior to use. For your gas-powered equipment, now is a great time to change out the spark plugs. However, it’s important to note that you should only use OEM parts. Not only are they more reliable but they may also be necessary if you want to maintain the warranties on your tools.
Store Lawn Furniture and Decorations
Winter weather is brutal on your lawn furniture and decorations. The freezing and thawing process, as well as the dry air, can warp and crack wooden furniture and may shatter glass gazing balls and plastic figures. Furthermore, constant exposure to moisture can leave seat cushions covered in mold and mildew. Once it starts getting cold outside, it’s best to clean these items off and store them where they will be protected from the elements.
Clean Out the Shed
Throughout the course of the lawn and garden season, your shed may become a disorganized and cluttered mess. This can make it hard to put things away for the winter and also makes it a chore to find what you need in the spring. Sweep out all dirt and debris and throw away unwanted pots or empty packages. If necessary, install hooks, racks or shelves to make it easier to store tools and equipment. Check tools and equipment for disrepair. If equipment like lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and chainsaws needs replacement parts, go to www.shankslawn.com, use the online parts lookup tool to locate, order and ship replacement parts directly to you.
Since 1984, Shank’s Lawn Equipment has provided thousands of people with the best outdoor power equipment on the market. If you’re in the Gettysburg, PA, Clear Spring or Hagerstown, MD, area and need service for your yard maintenance equipment, be sure to stop by Shank’s Lawn Equipment.