januaryIt’s January. Yeah, that January. The month where it’s cold, there’s very little green outside, and you dream of summer days. Don’t despair though. There are actually things you can be doing for your yard and landscape, and there are plants that do bloom.

DSC_0067Believe it or not, you can enjoy winter blooming perennials such as hellebores, rosemary and camellias. Yes, there are plants that bloom during the colder season. While trees may be bare, and leaves brown, you still can find color in your landscape. If you don’t have blooming plants, you may have plants with berries, and the red ones really pop against the brown of the season.

The cooler weather is also a good time to prune most plants/trees/shrubs. Do not prune azalea, dogwood, forsythia, redbud and rhododendron as they should be pruned after they bloom, since they set blooms in the fall. (White spirea should also be pruned right after it blooms in the spring, and even now you may see some blooms on the plant.) Almost anything that blooms after June 1, with the exception of oakleaf hydrangea and late-flowering azalea cultivars, can be pruned safely now.

Big TreeDid you know that January is a good time to plant new shrubs and trees? In fact, the winter months when trees are dormant are excellent times to plant. You will need to be careful that you do not plant them too deep or with too much soil amendment. It’s a great time for you to take a look and evaluate your landscape. Remove unattractive plants and replace them with others that you prefer. You should also browse garden catalogs for the coming season to make plans for future outdoor projects.

If you are planning on planting new bulbs, trees, and shrubs in the spring, or even laying sod, you should get a head start by getting your soil tested through the NC Extension Service. Results take a few weeks so the sooner you submit the sample, the sooner you get the results. This way you will be ready come spring, preventing delay of your new plant installations.

Winter grassCool season turf, such as fescue, is active during the winter months. However, grasses such as Bermuda and other warm season turf, is dormant. This doesn’t mean you can’t run a mower over it. In fact, a dry winter day is a good time to mow a dormant, warm-season lawn (if there is no frost, of course). Besides this grooming the lawn and removing fallen leaves and pine needles, it also allows you to inspect your yard for winter weeds. It’s best to control these weeds by spraying when the weather warms in spring.

You can and should still water your outdoor plants. Make sure to do so just before a cold snap to help plants survive bitter temperatures. For your indoor plants, many of them are in a semi-dormant state. This means you should not fertilize them and they require less watering.

Replacing, adding, or refreshing mulch is a perfect project for the winter. It helps keep your plants warm and makes your landscape look clean, especially now that there is less foliage to create a screen.

cardinalIf you love watching wildlife, you should keep your bird feeder well stocked with seed and your suet fresh. There are also other treats you can put outside to attract and feed local birds, including peanuts. Just make sure your feeder isn’t easy access for squirrels.

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