The winter season bring with it an array of exciting and fresh changes—the leaves turn from greens to vibrant oranges and reds, the humidity and heat you battled all summer long fades away and in its place cool and refreshing breezes wake up your heat-logged senses. If you are in the northern states, snow begins to fall, offering you your very own winter wonderland. In the southern states, such a Florida, chances are you are just thankful for the dropping temperatures and the decrease in damp, soggy afternoons.
But something that isn’t always exciting when the winter season rolls around is the havoc that decreasing temperatures can wreak on your landscape. Even in the warmer climates, without proper care your plants can be damaged or even destroyed by the cooler weather.
Although we are in the midst of the wintery months, there is still time to take measures to protect your hard-earned landscape. And if you have already prepped your plants for winter, you are one step ahead of the game!
Here are some of our most effective tips and tricks when it comes to ensuring your blooms and blossoms withstand even the coolest of temperatures.
Provide a winter layer
It is important that you spread a thicker layer of mulch over your landscape to protect plants and soil during the cooler periods. This allows the soil temperature to remain even despite dropping temperatures.
In addition, leaving some of the top growth on plants can aid in providing frost protection. However, if you live in a warmer, more humid climate, removing the top growth is essential to preventing fungal or other disease growths.
While snow can provide insulation for your soil in the same way that mulch can, snow can also hinder the stability of your tree branches. If you notice that snow has piled on the branches, simply knock the snow off starting first with the bottom branches and working your way up.
Hydration is key
Despite the moisture that snow can provide, it is still important to continue watering your plants throughout the winter seasons. And if your particular climate doesn’t experience snow, it is even more imperative to water your landscape. Plants that do not receive appropriate moisture will become more susceptible to damage during the lower temperatures, and plants that dry up before the ground freezes will die. A good rule of thumb that goes for a wide variety of trees and shrubs is to provide around an inch of water above ground per week.
For flowering trees, you will need to prune the dead or damaged branches and branches that are rubbing against each other. Be sure to prune above the area where the branch meets the trunk to prevent injuring the tree.
For Evergreen shrubs and trees, prune any dead branches as you see fit as the winter season sets in.
Pinching or pruning dying or dead flowers will promote future growth and protect against disease.
In colder climates, it may be beneficial to loosely wrap your plants with burlap or something similar to protect them from harsh winds and desiccation. This is especially important in areas that experience extremely cold winds, as wind can dry out plants and prevent them from getting the moisture they need from their roots.
Broadleaf trees are especially susceptible to cold winds and will need to be adequately protected during the winter season.
Other ways you can protect your trees and shrubs from harsh winds are windbreaks, hedges and batten fences.
The most important thing to remember is that every plant will react differently to climate changes, so keeping a close eye on your landscape or garden during the winter months will reward you tenfold when spring rolls around.
If you have recently planted shrubs or trees during autumn, they will need special attention as newer plants are more vulnerable to the changing seasons.
If you follow these steps and thoroughly care for your plants throughout the cooler weather, a vibrant and lush spring will be right around the corner. And look on the bright side—periods of cold temperatures kill those troublesome garden pests, offering a fresh start when the climate begins to heat up and your landscape gives way to healthy blooms and blossoms.