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Ways to Weather the Winter: Outdoor Edition

January 5th, 2014

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No matter where you are in the country, the chances are pretty good that you have experienced at least one cold day so far this winter. Even if your days have been relatively warm, it’s a different story as soon as the sun goes down.

It’s easy for us humans when the chilly night air creeps in because we simply retire to the warmth and shelter of our homes. But what about the lives that remain outside in the backyard – what options do our plants, trees and flowers have in terms of weathering the winter weather?

Fortunately, their source of survival is you! By addressing their most basic needs, you can ensure a safer winter for all of your green backyard residents. So here are a few tips to help you take stock of what you need to accomplish for the good of your backyard growth.

Mulch Ado about Nothing

Mulch is the mighty warrior of winter when it comes to keeping your plants and trees nice and toasty. Begin your winter work by removing all of the old mulch from around your trees and plants to remove insect eggs or disease spores which may have accumulated after the dead leaves fell off the trees.

After the first frost, apply a generous layer of new mulch around all of your trees and plants to help your greenery maintain a consistent under-the-surface temperature throughout the harsh winter season.

Flowery Advice

For the flowers and plants that are settling in for a long winter’s nap, simply snip away the dead leaves and diseased stems as soon as they become dormant. Avoid doing this before they drift off, otherwise you risk stimulating them into new growth.

From here, you’re free to select your next order of flower seeds and plan what you’re going to plant when the ground thaws!

Bushy Burlap and Tree Toppers

When you have invested time and money (not to mention the emotional energy you’ve expended in rooting on those little roots to establish themselves) in planting and growing tree roses and evergreen bushes, for example, the last thing you want to do is abandon them when they need you the most.

To protect your beauties, build a burlap snow fence and wind guard by driving four wooden stakes (the same height as the bush or tree) around the bushes and trees just outside the perimeter of mulch. Wrap burlap around the stakes to encircle the tree or bush and pull it taut. Secure it with string to keep the snow and wind out while letting the sunshine in for evergreens. For roses also fill in the enclosed area with mulch.

Leaf Patrol

Although you have put away your lawnmower, don’t stow your rake in the garage or garden shed just yet. Wait until you have complete yard coverage or until the trees have given all they have to give and then rake up the leaves rather than leaving them where they are until the spring.

When leaves are left on the ground, the sun has no way to penetrate through to the grass underneath. Plus, if you wait until the spring thaw, all of those leaves become a wet mess and are much harder to remove than if you get them while they are dry.

Other Backyard Winter Basics

In general, don’t forget about these items during the colder winter months.

  • Protect the ‘Over’ – Regularly replenish bird feeders so that they stay stocked and keep the birds from having to root around in your yard for leftover grass seed that may still be present.
  • Protect the ‘Under’ – To prevent rodents from digging up your garden and nesting in the soil, wait until the ground freezes and add a 6-inch layer of organic material to serve as your winter mulch around the base of your trees and plant beds.
  • Protect the ‘Around’ – Wrap strips of burlap diagonally around the base of young tree trunks (securing with twine) and encircle them with wire or a tree-guard product to protect their tender bark from cracking in the cold and from the teeth of critters looking to gnaw on something!

What are some of the ways you have cold-proofed your backyard to help your greens weather the winter months?

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was created by Chris Long. Chris has been working as an associate in various departments at The Home Depot for over 10 years. He is a regular contributor to the company blogs and likes to give advice on a plethora of topics ranging from lawn care to Holiday decor.

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