How To Prepare Your Garden
For Winter - Outwit Jack Frost!
A warm and sunny late-autumn day is
the perfect time to prepare trees and shrubs for cold weather
to come. Thankfully, much of getting these plants ready for winter
involves doing nothing; this late in the season, avoid watering,
fertilizing, or pruning, because these jobs stir up plant activity
at a time when trees and shrubs should be slowing down and toughening
up their wood for winter before the ground freezes.
Don't loll too long, though; there are, in fact,
a few things to do to ensure healthy plants come spring.
Spread four inches of mulch such as straw, chopped
leaves, wood chips, or some other organic material beneath your
trees and shrubs. This prevents alternate freezing and thawing
of the soil, which can heave plants--especially young ones--up
and out of the ground, exposing the roots to dessication in the
coming months. Mulch also limits frost penetration, enabling the
roots of evergreens--whose leaves transpire moisture even in winter--to
take up more water. Don't pile mulch closer than three inches
against the trunks; this can cause rotting.
Make cylinders of quarter-inch mesh
hardware cloth about a foot in diameter (this requires about three
feet of mesh) and 18 to 24 inches high. The relatively wide diameter
leaves plenty of room for growth and allows you to reach inside
to pull any weeds that appear there. Push the bottom of the cylinder
an inch or two into the ground to discourage burrowing beneath
Repel or thwart deer. Over much of the country,
deer are an increasing threat to trees and shrubs, especially
in winter when other food becomes scarce. Spraying trees and shrubs
with smelly, bitter, or spicy hot homemade or commercial repellents
can be effective; the same can be said for hanging bars of deodorant
soap and other repellents in the branches. Alternatively, keep
deer away with permanent or temporary fencing, bearing in mind
that with enough room on either side, a deer can leap a fence
10 feet tall. Wrapping individual whole plants with burlap is
effective, but does nothing for the plant's winter appearance.
A wrapping of thin-threaded black plastic mesh (sold as deer mesh)
is relatively unobtrusive.
Paint the trunks of young trees with a one-to-one
mixture of white latex paint and water. This reflects the sun's
rays in winter, reducing sunscald, which results from the dramatic
drop in bark temperature that occurs when the winter sun, after
warming the bark by day, drops below the western horizon, Bark
facing southwest is most susceptible.
Spray evergreens with an anti-desiccant such as
Wilt-Pruf to prevent excessive moisture loss through the leaves.
Damage is caused by exposure to wind and/or winter sun, so evergreens
growing in direct sun on south-facing slopes or near south-facing
walls will benefit most.
Horticulturist Lee Reich the garden writer for
the Associated Press and author of Weedless Gardening (Workman,
COPYRIGHT 2001 © Hearst Communications, Inc.
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