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Archive date:  December 12, 2002

Winter Garden Projects

There is still plenty to do!

These next few months may give your landscape a barren look but not to worry there is still plenty you can do outdoors if you want to brave the cold. Here are just a few ideas for some winter garden projects.
Shake Things Up A Bit
It is still a great time to install and/or transplant trees and shrubs. Clean out beds that have become over crowded and move some things around. If you have some shrubs that have outgrown their allotted space, rather than whacking them back, why not move them to an area better suited for their size. It will improve the backbone of your landscape and give you the opportunity to spice things up with something completely different in the new open space.
Think Spring
Why not begin prepping for spring now? There are several things you can do to get your landscape primed for spring. Thin out overgrown summer flowering shrubs like crapemyrtles and abelia by removing unwanted canes all the way to the ground. When thinning abelia remove the larger canes, this gives room for the younger canes to fill in. With crapemyrtle you have a choice. If you want your crapemyrtle shrub to look more like a tree, remove the smaller canes and suckers leaving 3 to 5 or more of the larger canes as the base of your tree. Then limb up these canes to look more like tree trunks. As these trunks age the bark will become mottled and provide beautiful winter interest. If instead you want your shrub to remain a shrub, but a much smaller one, then remove the larger canes leaving the smaller canes and suckers.
A cozy warm winter project is landscape planning. Decide where you may want new beds and look through books, magazines, and the internet for design and plant ideas. Don’t forget to consider the maximum size of the plants you are interested in and select areas that will allow these plants to stretch out and show off.
Keep On Composting
If you have a compost bin in its final stage then go ahead and spread it. Compost makes an excellent winter blanket for plants root systems. Plus, emptying the final stage bin allows you to begin a new stage1 compost that will be ready come springtime. Leaf debris, perennial trimmings, and chipped wood from pruning projects make excellent additions to compost in the winter months. Chippers can be rented at a reasonable price from equipment rental places such as Dixie rents, if you do not have access to one. The challenge with winter composting is supplying enough green compost to balance things out. Table scraps are ideal for this but if they are not ‘green’ do not use them. For example, don’t throw meats into the compost. They stink and attract critters.
Clean the Trees
Trees are often the most neglected and abused plants in the landscape. This winter take a look up and give your trees some thought. Remove dead, damaged, and diseased branches first. Then remove inward growing branches, crossing (or rubbing) branches, and branches with super tight crotch angles. Do *not* top your trees! If you have a tree that has previously been topped call a certified arborist to come take a look at it to determine if it is a hazard and if anything can be done to restore it. You may simply want to cut it down and start over.
These are just a few ideas for winter projects. If you have a project in mind but are not sure if it is a good time to do it, call your local nursery and ask. Chances are not only will they know the answer they may have some extra tips that will come in handy.