Winterizing Your Landscape

Winterizing Your Landscape

By Myatt Landscaping, Posted in #TeachingTuesday
December 14, 2021

This winter has been a bit colder so far than the last few NC winters we have had, so here are a few things you can do to help your garden be at its best next spring.

  • Don’t over-prune your perennials and grasses. Leaving at least 4-6” of the stalks at the base helps protect the crown from cold temperatures, reducing freeze damage. You can also leave the whole plant until early spring when new leaves start to sprout at the base, and then prune it back. This has the added benefit of leaving overwintering insects or eggs in place to increase beneficial insects for the following year. Butterflies, fireflies, native bees and many other beneficials overwinter in leaf litter and dead plant stalks.
  • Leave your leaves! While leaves should be removed from lawn areas to keep turfgrass healthy, you can leave them in the beds to help insulate plants from the cold, provide cover for overwintering insects, and break down to add organic matter to the soil.

  • Do some structural pruning on trees and shrubs. For deciduous trees and shrubs, winter provides a chance for you to see how to branches are growing in the interior that would normally be obscured by leaves. Take the opportunity to remove any dead or diseased branches, thin out dense sections, and prune out crossing or rubbing branches. Likewise, evergreens can be thinned at this time of year. Look up “pocket pruning” for more detail about how to do this. Properly thinned trees and shrubs are more resilient to damage from snow and ice accumulation.
  • Make sure hoses and containers are properly stored. Unfinished clay pots are prone to cracking under freezing temperatures, so make sure to empty and store them in a shed or garage. Other containers should be turned over so they don’t collect water and freeze. Disconnect hoses and make sure that no water is trapped inside.
  • Protect tender plants with burlap, straw, or frost blankets. Because we live in a borderline area between zone 7b and 8a, we are able to grow a lot of more tropical plants than we should be able to. However, when we get a polar vortex causing extended cold temperatures, these warm-climate plants will not survive. Luckily, it is possible to protect these plants from damage by insulating with a thick layer of straw packed around the base and up the trunk (if a tree/shrub). You can use a temporary cage of chicken wire around the plant to keep the straw in place through the period of cold. Alternatively, you can wrap the plant in bunches of burlap and use twine or rope to tie it in place. Straw and burlap work best because they allow rain water to pass through without staying wet and soggy, which could rot the plant. Frost blankets can be used for nightly drops in temperature.

Contact us if you have any questions!