We're in that tumultuous transition when Mother Nature has one of her feet still planted in winter and the other one trying to step into spring, which arrives officially in just one day.
Brace yourself for her mood swings - like we'll see with the heavy snow storm predicted this weekend. Stand by to give your plants the TLC they need to sustain high winds and heavy snow and then get ready to plant some pansies and head into the growing season. It's springtime in the Rockies!
• Remember to get newspapers and toys off of sidewalks and drives so they don't clog the snow thrower.
• If you've been winter watering, make sure the hose is disconnected from the faucet.
• Get a broom handle ready and plan to shake snow gently off of trees a few times while the snow is still falling. The heavier the snow gets on the branches, the more likely they are to break.
• Remember to shake limbs gently starting from the bottom and moving up. If you start at the top, falling snow on lower branches adds more weight and can cause them to break.
• When you shovel or clear snow with a snow thrower, put the snow in the yard, not in the street. Your lawn will appreciate it more than the city's storm water system.
• That this storm will bring some much needed moisture for our plants and soil.
• That this storm is happening before trees have leafed out. Late spring snows, that drop snow onto tree leaves as well as branches, make branches even more susceptible to breaking.
• Early spring is an excellent time to prune non-flowering trees - especially if you can prune in a nice-weather window before those heavy snows may fall on leaf-laden trees. Because of the drought, many trees may be less "bendy" and more likely to snap and break. Pruning helps to protect against breakage.
• Remember the mulch. It can be applied at any time during the year, but in a drought year with watering restrictions expected, it's a water-wise investment. In snowless winters, a layer of mulch several inches thick helps retain soil moisture. Applying an organic compost such as mulch is also a good soil amendment for the spring.
The ideal mulch does not compact readily or hinder water and air movement into the soil. It breaks down slowly and is not a fire hazard. Adding mulch is also No. 6 in the 7 Principles of Xeriscape.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.