Even though your lawn and garden might seem dormant, there’s plenty you can do during the winter months to prepare them for a beautiful bloom come spring. Renowned outdoor living expert P. Allen Smith teams with the number one selling brand of handheld outdoor power equipment in America, STIHL, for the best in seasonal tips.
• Cut back on watering and fertilizing your houseplants. Plants aren’t in an active growth stage during winter and don’t need as much moisture or nutrients. Water when the soil is dry to the touch and hold off on fertilizing the plants until March.
• To keep holiday greenery fresh longer, prepare the boughs by re-cutting the stems, and soak the entire limb in water overnight. Completely submerge garlands and wreaths in a galvanized tub or bathtub for 12 hours. For evergreens like fir and spruce that tend to shed their needles, you can also spray the boughs with a floral fixative available at a craft store or garden center. Follow label directions.
• You can still plant daffodil bulbs as long as the ground is not frozen. The STIHL BT 45 planting auger is a great tool for this job.
• Be sure the trees you planted this year are staked and supported with guy wire. The weight of ice combined with the force of strong winds can literally uproot newly planted trees.
• Late fall and early winter are ideal for soil testing. If the soil is workable you can make any changes now and get a jump start on spring.
• Get out your catalogs and visit your favorite online garden stores because it’s time to start placing plant and seed orders for spring. Or visit http://www.independentwestand.org/ to find a locally owned garden center near you.
• As weather permits, cut back liriope ground cover and ornamental grasses before new growth begins. Liriope can be cut back with a line trimmer like the STIHL FS 56 RC-E. Use sharp shears for ornamental grasses.
• Prune early spring flowering shrubs such as forsythia, quince, winter honeysuckle and winter jasmine immediately after the flowers fade. STIHL makes a variety of pruning equipment, from hand pruners for quick work to larger pole pruners to tackle hard to reach limbs.
• Pansies and violas hold up well in freezing weather. Violas are especially cold tolerant, surviving temperature drops down to 30˚F. If you are expecting 10 or more nights of below 30˚F temperatures, cover your plants with newspaper, buckets or an old sheet until morning.
• Cut back hybrid tea and repeat blooming roses before the buds break. Wait to prune one-time blooming roses until after they have bloomed. Crape myrtles, butterfly bush, group C and group B clematis should also be pruned in late winter/early spring.
• If you haven’t done so already, remove dead fronds from your asparagus plants.
• When the lawn is iced over, try to avoid walking on it as much as possible. This can seriously damage the grass blades, and with clumping grasses like rye and fescue, the damage can be irreversible.