The latest cold snap probably shocked your early blooming daffodils; Spring has officially started, but the thermostat says otherwise at the moment. Mother Nature tries to adhere to a calendar, but at the end of the day, we are at her mercy. Over all, our weather is considerably more hospitable this time of year, but there may still be a few more surprises, as evidenced by our recent snow storm. It’s time to prepare your blooming fruit trees, vegetables or flowers from these potential cold snaps. There are several methods of protection for your landscape while the weather remains in flux. It’s important to note that it doesn’t have to freeze for plants to be damaged by frost. It just has to get cold enough for water vapor to condense on cold plants that have been chilled. Young trees or varieties of trees that have thin bark, (some fruit trees fall in this category), as well as the evergreens and firs are very susceptible to branches breaking from the heavy wet snow that often happens in the springtime. The best way to remove the snow is to gently brush the snow off by hand or with a broom with upward strokes. Gently shaking the branches can also be done, but this needs to be done carefully. Branches can be brittle during the winter months, so you could be doing more harm than good. You can also remove snow throughout the snow event to make removal easier and minimize the weight that’s on your plants at any given time. There are many varieties of plants that can handle the sudden cold temperatures, such as azaleas, hollies and pansies – these can
It’s time to think about mulching those trees and flower beds, now that the harsh colds of Winter have abated. Applied correctly and liberally, it’s good for your plants as well as a great labor saver. For starters, it will slow weed growth considerably. That alone is a reason to mulch. No one wants to spend all Spring and Summer hunched over their flower beds! Mulch also reduces water evaporation and can improve soil quality, two benefits that will yield long term results in your garden. However, not all mulch is created equal. Depending on which type you decide to use, you could reap different benefits. In general, mulch with larger pieces of bark will decompose more slowly. Finer pine bark mulch will enrich the soil as it decomposes. Its main function aside from weed reduction is offering insulation to the root sources when there are fluctuations in temperature. It also reduces water loss from the soil when you water or run a sprinkler. However poor choices in mulch quality, could mean that it can retain TOO much moisture and encourage slugs and other pests that may eat certain plants. It can also run the risk of becoming moldy. An expert from Sunrise Landscape and Design can help you decipher which mulch is best suited for which area of your lawn. Cosmetically, mulch can add visual interest to your yard, depending on the color and size you choose. Colored mulch contains vegetable dye, its color lasting for a year or more. They are also finer in texture which makes them ideal for areas with slope since they mat down nicely. Other types of mulch include pine straw which are pine tree
Winter is the time when your landscape is clearly visible, for better or for worse. Take a moment now to assess your surroundings and plan for any renovations and additions you may have dreamed about while hunkered down during the long Winter. Get that Pinterest board ready and start collecting ideas! Your barren trees and less-than-robust bushes and greenery give you the opportunity to really evaluate what changes you’d like to make before Spring is in full bloom. After all, our yards are now extensions of our living space, an “extra room,” and should reflect how we enjoy spending our free time, whether we’re entertaining, creating a cozy space to spend time alone, or creating more room for your kids to play. Think back to what worked and what didn’t last year. If you love to entertain, did you have enough space on the patio? If you have pets, perhaps they’ve worn a path in your lawn. Is there more mud than there is grass? Have you had drainage issues that may be exacerbated now that Spring showers are on their way? When considering all of these “issues”, keep the style of your house in mind when considering solutions. Do you want to use the same materials as your house to implement a more cohesive look, or is now the time to maybe try something new? Think about the colors you’d like to see in your yard. Tying in the color of your hardscape with the surrounding plantings creates a unified look and makes your home seem in harmony with its surroundings. There is a wealth of materials to choose from if you’re thinking of adding a patio, a water feature or a new walkway.
Though there really isn’t much lawn maintenance required in the Winter months when the ground is often frozen, there are some important precautions to take with your lawn so that when the weather DOES begin to warm, your lawn will be ready for the beautiful show-off that is Spring. Hopefully you’ve remembered to disconnect your garden hose before the first frost, but if not, disconnect as soon as possible. Any extra water left inside the hose will freeze and cause the lining of the hose to crack. Also, any additional ice will put pressure on the pipes connected to your house and this could lead to very costly repairs you were not anticipating. Ornamental concrete birdbaths should also be emptied, since any water left in the basin could lead to cracking. Now that everything has become dormant or has died, take advantage of the “cleared” landscape and evaluate not only the plant placement but the soil around it. Is there erosion? Make a note of it, this is something to tackle once the danger of frost has passed. If your plants are dormant and the Winter has proven to be colder than usual, consider adding another layer of mulch. Even though we’re halfway through Winter, it’s not too late to protect your investment and add a little extra blanket to the perennials you’re hoping to see again in Spring. Again, take advantage of the fact that the ground is “cleared” and take a look and see if there are roots damaging any part of your hardscape or your home’s foundation. This is the time to take notes and talk to us about what will need to be rectified once the danger of