Getting your Greenery Winter-Ready

On the Range


This time of year the air is beginning to cool and pumpkin spice flavoring is hitting the shelves. It’s time to think about how to give your yard and garden the care they need to get through the winter months.

It is important to water trees and shrubs throughout the winter months, especially if there isn’t good snow cover. Water on days with little to no wind when temps are above 40 degrees and when the ground is not frozen. The combination of these circumstances probably equates to about once a month. Winter watering is important for soil moisture, so allow the top six to eight inches of the soil profile to receive water. Moist soils experience less expansion and contraction. Moist soils also change temperatures more slowly, which is better for the root systems.

Late fall and winter are good times to prune. Trees and shrubs are dormant and the view of the tree or shrub is less obscured by foliage. If you are looking to prune to help shape the tree, as opposed to ridding disease or insects, now is the time to do it.

When it comes to pruning, one of the most important tasks is to make sure you have the right tools for the job. Hand pruners, loppers, and saws are designed to handle very different projects; it is important to understand when to use each, and to sharpen and disinfect them.

Here are several other tips for a pruning job well done:

1) Do not make cuts flush with the tree.

2) Never remove more than 30% of the plant at one time.

3) Do not apply pruning tar or paint. Trees heal better and faster on their own.

4) Prune flowering shrubs right after they bloom. Pruning this time of year may result in cutting off next year’s blooms.

For more information, contact the extension office for multiple pruning references and resources.

Mulching your flower beds in the fall can also be a great method to help ensure plants survive the winter. Mulch especially aids in protecting young or freshly transplanted plants. Mulch also aids in conserving soil moisture content and helps keep the soil cool enough that the plants slow their growth. Finally, mulch can help reduce the chances of plants emerging in an early tease of spring temperature, and we know Wyoming weather likes to tease.

Winter time doesn’t have to mean all work and no play; it can also be a great time to experiment with indoor growing. If you are bringing plants from outside in, check them for disease and insects before they take up residency in the house. There are several herbs and root vegetables that have potential to grow well indoors. Simply ensure they have at least 6 hours of sun a day, and enough well drained soil to support the plants when they are fully grown. Any plastic container can make a suitable growing container, milk carton, jug, or even a bucket. Be creative and have fun! Perhaps you’ll enjoy the fresh “fruits and vegetables of your labors” this winter.

For more information about fall or winter maintenance, or container gardening, contact the UW Carbon County Extension Office.


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