Your plants are. Winter weather takes a toll on your green pals.
Soggy leaves left on your lawn can smother your turf. Cold and wind makes unprotected plants thirsty. Shrubs can break under the weight of misplaced snow piles.
What the key to maintaining plants in winter?
Bradley Sarno, enhancement operations manager at Level Green Landscaping, walks us through a few key tasks.
Rest In Peace, Bugs
It’s oil time.
Those azaleas and roses plagued by mites, aphids or lace bugs can use a coating of petroleum-based horticultural oil now, Sarno says.
“Instead of poisoning the bugs, you’re basically smothering them with the oil,” he says.
The oil kills any lingering insects as well as their eggs, so they won’t hatch in the spring.
Everybody loves that rich brown layer of fresh mulch in the spring, but fall mulch is just as important.
It suppresses any weeds that are germinating now, like chickweed, Sarno says, and holds in vital moisture.
“Even though you’ve turned off your outdoor spigots for the winter, plants still need water,” he says.
Part of maintaining plants in winter is looking ahead to their health in future seasons. Winter is a great time to prune your trees and shrubs.
“The plants have stopped growing and the leaves have fallen off, so you can really get a good look at the structure of the plant,” Sarno says. “The foliage isn’t hiding dead branches or limbs that are crossing or growing in the wrong direction.”
But don’t go crazy. Not all plants benefit from this winter pruning, he says.
“Don’t whack away now at any plant that will flower in the spring, or you’ll cut off all its buds,” he says.
But summer blooming plants like spirea, hydrangea, crape myrtle and shrubs like euonymus love a great dormant pruning, Sarno says.
“You don’t have to do it every year, but every two or three seasons is really beneficial,” he says.
There’s another benefit to dormant pruning, too.
When you prune in the warm spring and summer months, those fresh cuts attract insects, which can spread disease.
The fresh pruning cuts we make now, during dormancy, will heal faster. That means less time for them to attract insects and disease.
Protect Plants From Salt
Salt and ice melt products can burn turf and plants, so keep things tidy, Sarno says.
“If you see excess granules on plant material, sweep it off, blow it off, hose it off — do whatever you can to remove it,” he says.
Better yet, keep it off in the first place, he says, with careful application.
Level Green crews use spreaders with guards that keep the product only on pavement, not turf or plants, he says.
“We put it only where it needs to be.”
Plan For Those Snow Piles
Plan ahead with your snow removal contractor to pile snow away from bushes that could break from the weight of the snow.
“Ideally, we like to pile snow at the lowest point on the property,” Sarno says. “If it collects at the top of a hill, it will melt, run down the hill and refreeze, causing a recurring nightmare every day.”
Some commercial properties post helpful “no parking” signs at locations where snow will be piled, he says.
Cutting Back Perennials? Not So Fast
All those hostas, daylilies and heuchera that beautified your property all summer are looking pretty ratty.
In this case, maintaining plants in winter means leaving them alone, Sarno says.
“Don’t cut them back yet, even if they look unsightly,” he says. “They’re still gathering nutrients they need for next spring. We might trim them a bit to tidy them up, but wait until they’re completely done to cut them back.”
Take A Look Around
“This is a great time to evaluate all your plants, decide what did well and what didn’t,” Sarno says. “It’s fun — like rearranging the furniture. You can move plants around, divide them to make more. If you have a big hosta you love, cut it in half or even thirds to get more plants out of it.”
Get Those Leaves Off The Lawn
Level Green crews use mulching mowers that break leaves down into nutritious bits beneficial to your turf.
If anybody out there prefers raking, (anybody?) that’s fine too. Just get them off your turf.
Your lawn needs air to breathe. Leave a soggy mess of decaying leaves on your lawn all winter and your grass will suffocate. That smothering layer of leaves also invites pests and diseases.
Let Level Green Tuck In Your Plants For The Winter
Don’t let winter damage your prized plants — maintaining plants in winter is crucial to your landscaping’s health.
Leave it to us.
If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers. Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.
Contact us at 202-544-0968. You can also request a free consultation online to meet with us one-on-one.
We’d love to hear from you.