Winter Blues


If you think you get a break from caring for your garden just because it is cold outside…..think again. The following will give you plenty of projects this month and still leave some time to watch the Super Bowl.

Our cold temperatures certainly reduce the desire to garden, however, do not completely abandon your plants. Many trees, evergreens and newly planted shrubs still require a little extra water in the winter months. Due to dormancy and colder temperatures plants generally require less water but less does NOT equate to none. If we haven’t had signaficant moisture for two weeks, it may be time to check. Feel the soil to detect the moisture level. Do not rely on the leaves for signs. Evergreens such as Rhododendron will curl in response to cold but that doesn’t necessarily reflect a lack of water! If the soil feels dry, do your plants a favor….give a drink!


Now that most of the leaves are down it is a great time to remove all the debris from your water feature. Leaves decomposing underwater give off methane gas, which can create an unhealthy environment for fish. Once this is completed you may want to place a thin netting over the area to prevent additional debris from falling in. You may need to clean the filter on your pump to remove debris build up. Definitely do this before you turn it back on in the spring.


Your indoor plants need less care this time of year. Be careful not to over water. Cut down on fertilization. Watch for spider mites, scale and mealybugs. Always follow manufacturer’s labeled instructions for before applying an insecticide.


Camellias benefit from clean ground at their base. Discard fallen and old blooms as they can cause disease.


Once you have removed excess leaf debris from your beds it is a good time to replenish your mulch. This will provide a tidier option for plant insulation than the leaves. Did you know that mulch will increase the soil temperatures around you plants by at least 10 degrees? Some popular mulches include:

Pine Needles

Pine Bark

Shredded Pine or Hardwood

Do not over do it. It is a common mistake to pile it on for aesthetic reasons and forgetting that too much mulch will create a perfect haven for fungus and insects both which are damaging to your plant material. 4 inches of total mulch (old and new) is sufficient. If you like pretty mulch year-round, then pine needle mulch is your best option. It decomposes at about the same rate as it fades; thus allowing for a second application during the year for aesthetics without creating excess.

You may want to take this opportunity to trench clean bed edges before you apply new mulch. Simply take a shovel and dig a “V” trench around all of your beds. This will help keep mulch out of your grass and your grass out of your beds. Based on your location, we may be able to install your mulch for you. Please check with us.


Your fescue turf is dormant with these temperatures but is not without the need for attention. Conduct a pH test on your soil to see if it is in need of lime. With our clay soil in this area, that is a common necessity. January is a great month to apply if the temperatures stay around 40-50 degrees. A quick and easy way to check the pH is by using a pH meter (sold at most hardware stores). This relatively inexpensive device will also come in handy in your vegetable garden. Follow the easy instructions included. For your turf you want to have a pH of about 6.5. Always apply lime and all fertilizers according to the manufacture’s label. If you really want a detailed soil analysis, pick up a kit from the County Extension Agency.


This is a great time to do some cleaning in the garden hutch. If any of your pesticides are 2 or 3 years old they are not as effective. Check with the city collection department about proper disposal procedures.


Use this time to inventory, repair and/or replace your garden tools. Nothing is more frustrating than grabbing those pruning shears in the heat of battle and having to stop to tighten a bolt or grease a fitting.


Clean out your birdhouses now, since many birds look for nesting boxes long before they start their new families.


DO NOT be accused of this dreadful crime. Do nothing until you check out our site next month. Your crepe mrytles and we thank you.


This is a great opportunity to walk around your garden and begin to brainstorm for some ideas for changes you may want to make in the spring. Do some research on plant material that will not only satisfy your aesthetic desires but will also work in your environment (shady or sunny?) We would love to help you if you are in over your head.


Okay we have given you something to do every weekend this month. Take the day off and watch the game.
See you in February.