January/February Gardening Tips:
Ok, so where is our snow? While some of us are happy about the lack of the white stuff to shovel and to navigate through while driving to work, the lack of any lasting snow cover on the garden and our yards is not conducive to a healthy lawn and garden in the spring. No snow accompanied by the fluctuations in temperature we have been having can wreak havoc on the perennials and the lawn.
Snow acts like a protective blanket on the yard and garden. Ideally the ground freezes in late fall and then the snow cover keeps things frozen by blocking the warming sun’s rays. That snow cover also protects the plants from our cold, drying winter winds. When the ground freezes and thaws repeatedly throughout the winter months, the ground heaves, damaging the roots and crowns of many perennials. And, as grass is like any other plant, the lawn can also heave, damaging grass plants – particularly on new lawns.
So what do we do now that Mother Nature isn’t doing her job? I recommend covering those tender perennials with something. Straw would work but it is messy to clean up in the spring and blows around with our winter winds. Burlap is excellent but pricey. The best (and cheapest) cover is the boughs from your discarded Christmas tree; or your neighbors that has been placed by the curb. Once the ground is frozen place the bows over the plants. This shades the soil and protects the plants from cold, drying winter winds. While you can’t cover your yard with anything, when there is no snow cover lawn care experts recommend keeping traffic on your lawn to a minimum. This will avoid damaging the young brittle grass plants.
Spring is only two months away. The gardening catalogs will begin filling our mail boxes soon. Enjoy a brisk winter walk and discover the beauty of the red twig dogwoods, the winterberry with its red berry clusters and the holly plants with their deep green leaves and contrasting berries. And when we get that snow, there is nothing more beautiful than the branches and twigs of our majestic deciduous trees dusted in white. Talk about your winter wonderland…