Maintaining Winter Gardens Need Not Be Boring

plant-with-snow-in-winterWinter is here to stay and is making great performance of brisk winds and threatening snow storms.

As an avid gardener, you know your work is never done – no matter the season.

The green thumb knows there are a variety of ways to keep busy during the winter.

From planting crops that can handle the winter temperatures to growing plants indoors, winter gardening can be accomplished.

The benefits of winter gardening are vast.

As hibernation season, we stay in more and exercise less, so gardening is a way to get outside and be active.

Another benefit is avoiding the price hike in fruits and vegetables by growing your own. Of course, the benefits of produce itself will ward off illnesses that may attack during the vulnerable Flu season.

Here’s a really cool video I found on how to build a raised vegetable garden:

The best benefit of all is the joy that will come from keeping your green thumb active. What you enjoy most about spring and summer can be indulged by the environment you create with winter gardens.

Now to select your plants!

A bit or research will go into this process as your plant selection depends on your region, location of growth (indoors, outdoors, solar garden) and personality. However, if you are providing a heated environment, you are may choose almost any plant to grow.

Produce – for those who enjoy fewer pests.

  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Kale
  • Parsnip
  • Broccoli
  • Mustard
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • … and more

Flowers – for those who enjoy a beautiful, colorful view.

  • Snowdrops
  • Bergenia
  • Hellebores
  • Camellias
  • Pansies
  • Petunias
  • Snap Dragon
  • Iceland Poppy
  • and Cyclamen

Trees – for the ambitious green thumbs.

  • Japanese Maple
  • Crape-myrtle

Other – for those who dare to be different.

  • Ornamental Grass
  • Winter Berries (such as Nandina, Evergreen Hollies and Beautyberry)
  • Witch Hazel

During this cold and darker season, don’t forget to get the kids involved. It can be fun to help plant and watch the crop grow.

They can take snap-shots of the growth process and create a presentation or they can simply give it as a home-warming gift to a family friend. There are many options that are fun and educational.

This post was written by Philippe Allaire, a guest author with over 15 years experience in the home improvement field, from landscaping to kitchens renovations, together we are sure to accomplish any project around the house you may have.

Warm Winter Affecting Your Landscape?

Many states in the U.S. are experiencing warm winters.

States notoriously known for harsh and brutal winters, like Minneapolis, didn’t have temperatures dip below zero until mid-January. While residents may be relieved of the delayed cold temperatures, many gardeners and landscape professionals are worried about their landscape surviving the drastic temperature fluctuations.

How it Affects Your Lawn

In winter, lawns are dormant meaning they are alive, but not actively growing like they do in spring or summer months. When a warm winter strikes, your lawn continues to grow, but may tire and weaken due to the lack of real rest. The stress can be too much for your lawn since it will not be receiving the nutrients it needs. And, without the proper lawn care help, your lawn may turn brown leaving dead spots, or spreading lawn diseases.

Lawn Care Tips

When your lawn is experiencing a warm winter it’s best to water lightly and practice other lawn care guidelines.

  • Apply at least ½ inch of water, about once a week especially if your warm winter is seeing 50- 70 degree temperatures.
  • Make sure to check your local forecast to avoid watering your lawn before temperatures drop to freezing.
  • Do not mow your lawn unless you notice the grass is starting grow.
  • If you must mow, try keeping your lawn less than 3 inches in height.
  • If your lawn gets too tall during winter months it can flop over, trapping moisture and spreading fungal diseases to your lawn.

You should also avoid foot traffic on your lawn as much as possible; this goes for all seasons. If and when temperatures gradually return to their normal winter temperatures the grass should ‘harden up’ and be fine until spring time.

Take note to see if there are any spots in your lawn that hold a lot of water and/or freeze during the cold winter temperatures and make sure to develop a better drainage system for the next winter.

This will save your landscape from bare spots and other unsightly lawn diseases no matter what season you are in.

Winter Lawn

[Image Source: LawnCare.Net]

How it affects Your Plants

Plants respond to two things: temperature and light.

When the temperature rises and plants get more sunshine than they are use to in winter they can’t help but think it’s spring time and start to bloom or grow. The ones that bloom or start to bloom may be in trouble when the cold winter temperatures return.

It’s difficult to know exactly how to prepare your plants for this kind of uncertainty because of all the factors involved. For instance, you must consider: type of plants you have, how suddenly the cold temperatures return, how cold it gets, and your environment.

Nonetheless there are a couple of things you can do to make sure your landscape remains lush and pleasant looking.

Plant Tips

  • Laying a layer of mulch or leaves is a big and easy way to help your plants survive winter.
  • Mulching helps keep your plants warm and keeps moisture in the ground.
  • Adding about 1 inch to 2 inches of mulch should be enough to provide enough warmth for your plants. Mulch will act as a blanket and keep them warm for the duration of winter.
  • If your landscape hasn’t seen very much rain or snow make sure to water your plants during the warm period. They’ll have a better chance of bouncing back when spring time comes.
  • If you bring outdoor potted plants indoors, make sure to water and give them access to a window that gets adequate amounts of sunlight.

How it Affects Your Bushes/Shrubs

Shrubs or bushes have a different story when it comes to a warm winter. They typically set their bulbs in the spring so the plant itself should remain unharmed.

However, the flower buds could be killed if they bloomed or opened too much. The cold air takes away valuable moisture and warmth from the buds and dries them out causing them to die, so don’t be too disappointed if you have fewer blooms this spring.

Bushes/Shrub Tips

  • Once the warm winter has occurred it’s hard to prep your shrubs or bushes for the winter weather that will return.
  • Make sure your bushes and shrubs get a good watering in the fall time. They’ll get the needed moisture they may have lost during harsh winter weather.
  • Mulching around them won’t hurt. Remember to leave some breathing room around the stem of the plant.

Warm winters are unpredictable and it’s almost impossible to determine how exactly they will negatively impact your landscape, but with these lawn care and gardening tips you can better help your landscape survive winter and get ready to flourish for the coming spring.