Winter can be harsh....(especially in good ol Wiscaaahnsin)! Cold temps and windy conditions
can really take its toll. In order to combat the relentless assault of Jack Frost, we (humans) tend
to gear up in layers....and MORE layers. But what about your landscape?....your trees and new
plantings?....what about your lawn? What actions do you take to prepare your landscape for
the short days and cold nights that winter brings?
There are some simple steps you can take towards the end of the year that will benefit your
landscape greatly in the subsequent growing season. This article will discuss how some late fall
prep work can improve the health of your landscape for next year and make your spring time a
lot less hectic.
Go on give em a big drink! Watering newer plantings, transplants, evergreens and trees (all the way until first hard freeze or until ground is actually frozen). A deep-soak is beneficial (typically in November) to all
plantings including trees, shrubs and perennials. This will ensure that plants have plenty of
moisture going into the winter season. This type of late-season irrigation is most important for
evergreen species (both broadleaf and needle varieties) as well as any new plantings/transplanted items.
No one really wants to do this but to keep and maintain a lush landscape it is inevitable that you will need to clean up your landscaping in order to keep it looking in tip top shape. Pool Pros recomends starting with trimming all perenials down to within about 2 inches of the height of the planting bed so that new growth can sprout through unimpeded in the spring time. This also includes selective pruning for woody shrubs and trees to maintain their preferred form and size.
MULCH IT UP
Fall is a great time to add fresh mulch to your landscaping. Adding fresh mulch in fall creates 2 positives, first it adds fresh new detail to beds that may have faded over the summer and the new hardwood mulch will to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperatures throughout the frigid winter to come.
Believe it or not its not a bad idea to plant bulbs in late fall so that they are set for spring propogation. here is a great article from the Green Bay Botanical garden that dives into how, what and when to plant your bulbs in the fall. THE GUIDE TO FALL BULB PLANTINGS
WRAP IT UP
Some species of trees do require a little tlc to make it through winter. Arborvitaes and some decorative evergreen trees are susceptible to damage from cold and wind. So to help them through the winter it is recomened to cover them up. Not all willy nilly but take care to cover these trees in a manner that will protect them from the wind without damaging them. Check out this quick videoo on how to best wrap your sensitive trees for winter. WINTER TREE WRAPPING VIDEO
Tree wrapping includes burlap wrap for some evergreens and tree wrap for the stems of vulnerable
deciduous trees (like cherry, crabapple, and some maple species). Stem protection is important
for vulnerable crabapple and fruiting tree species as some critters like to snack on the bark
around the stems (after all other food sources have been depleted in harsh winters). Stem
wrapping also helps protect maples and crabapples from sun scald (which occurs from sudden
temperature fluctuations that damages the thinner bark of young trees).
TO SPRAY OR NOT TO SPRAY
The use of anti-desiccant spray is an option to further protect your most vulernable woody shrubs and trees. Anti-desiccant sprays help prevent dehydration and windburn in the cold winter months we experience annually in the frozen north of Wisconsin. Anti-desiccant sprays are best applied in moderate temperatures (usually between 40 - 50 degrees F) with no immediate precipitation in the forecast.
MORE CLEAN UP!
Always be sure to clear any and all debris away from existing site drainage inlets to ensure proper flow of stormwater in early spring months.Leaves, mulch and debris can easily clog them up and cause bigger headaches in the spring.
The dreaded time consuming task of raking and gathering up your leaves. Be sure to remove as many leaves as possible. A great option to create a compost pile and add your fall leaf collection to it. Over time as it all decomposes it will turn into great compst. If you have a lawn mower with a mulching blade or setting you can at times simply mulch the leaves and leave them in place to add nutrients to you lawn. The key is to not allow too many piles or leaves in any given area. Too thick of leaves and or leaf mulch in an area can actually kill your grass so make sure your leaf mulching efforts are helping keep you lawn lush and not killing it . Leaves are perfectly fine to be left in hardwood mulch plantings beds as they will eventually decompose and add nutrients to the soil.
***NOTE: If your planting beds are made of decorative stone - always remove as many leaves
and debris as posssible (as over time the leaves will break down and collect between the stones
and provide a bedding material for weeds to propogate).
WINTERIZE LANDSCAPE SYSTEMS
Now is the time to winterize all of your landscape systems before they run the risk of freezing up causing expensive repairs in spring.
IRRIGATION SYSTEMS (if applicable).....needs to be drained and remove any excess water
before freezing as this could cause damage to the sprinkler system.
SWIMMING POOL SYSTEMS (if applicable).....this includes balancing water chemistry, adding any
necessary chemicals, cleaning the pool and filter, winterizing the pool equipemnt, plumbing and
finally- installing the winter/security cover.
GUTTERS Clean out existing gutters of the house and ensure that all downspouts are free and clear of any
debris so that snowmelt can properly flow off site during spring months.
WATER FEATURES & PONDS Protect existing water features and ponds....turn off pumps, drain water features and cover
with a tarp to protect from snowfall (if necessary).
OUTDOOR KITCHENS......turn off water supply, drain any existing lines and leave valves
open. Clean out any existing appliances like refrigerators.
LAWNS: Mow lawn to a lower setting (drop the mower setting gradually)....in cool-season turf lawns,
lowering the height of the grass will discourage voles from nesting in these areas over winter. A
good general guideline to follow is the 1/3 rule....Don't ever remove more than 1/3 of the total
length of the leaf tissue at any one time when mowing. Removing more than 1/3 of the existing
grass length will cause stress. Therefore, multiple mowings may be necessary to accomplish the
DE-THATCH lawn (usually in October when grass is still actively growing). This action will help
remove dead grass from the existing turf stand so that the lawn can thrive in the subsequent
growing season. Keep this loosed dead grass and add to your compost pile with the leaves you collected for future compost.
OVERSEED lawn and/or apply grass seed to any areas of exposed soil. Even if temperatures have
dropped - seeding can still be done. This is known as 'dormant seeding' -whereas seeds will
remain dormant over the winter season and when the soil temperatures begin to rise to
appropriate levels for germination, the seed will already be in place and begin to grow in early
FERTILIZER Application of fertilizer (winterizer) for turf lawn. A regular fertilizer application program is
crucial to long-term turf health. However, a winterizer fertilizer is especially important because it helps the lawn store nutrients over the winter and be prepared for rapid growth once spring time arrives.
Protect any existing patio furniture by covering with plastic membrane/tarp or storing the
cushions indoors (to protect soft surfaces from moisture, mold and mildew)
Cover existing grills or outdoor fire elements (protecting ignition mechanisms from moisture is
crucial for extending the longevity of these components).
Cover firepits to avoid water retention and accumulation of rust.
Close outdoor ovens and fireplaces to prevent the build-up of ice and snow.
Clean off existing deck and patio surfaces of any organic debris and metal components, tools
and accessories (to avoid unnecessary staining).
MORAL OF THE STORY
After enjoying your beautiful landscaping all year its time to break out the elbow grease to keep it looking great and ready to start all over again in spring. A little elbow grease will go a long way to keeping your landscaping looking good and save you form expensive repairs in the future.
SHAMELESS CALL TO ACTION!
Do you need tips in prepping your landscape for the winter months? Contact Pool Pros today @
920-771-0107. We are here to help answer any maintenance questions that you have about
your pool, hardscape or landscape!