Vail Daily landscape column: Do plants need care in January?
If you look across your yard during the dormant season, an overgrown lawn isn’t crying out to be mowed and there probably aren’t many leaves begging to be raked. Still, the winterscape may need your attention.
What’s out of place?
As you look across the yard, pay attention to what might seem out of place. Especially if it’s been a few weeks since you gave the yard a serious visual once-over, you might find a few areas needing attention. If there are areas that are not under snow cover, then here are a few things to check.
It is common practice to leave dried ornamental grasses standing in the garden for winter interest. Their shape and swaying plumes add seasonal interest. Under heavy snows, however, these grasses in unprotected locations can be easily smashed by snow load into unattractive mounds.
Broken and bent grasses won’t bounce back to their upright shape, so they should be cut back. For a neater look, avoid cutting grasses straight across with every stalk at the same height. Instead, cut grasses below where they are bent or broken and at different heights in order to create a more rounded shape among the stalks.
If grasses are still standing tall, then leave them until spring. But make a note on your spring chore list that last year’s growth will need to be removed prior to emergence of his year’s fresh growth.
Many herbaceous shrubs have weak wood and long, pliable branches that make them susceptible to wind and snow damage. Examples include Russian sage, golden elder, sumac, pussy willow, blue mist spirea and dark night spirea.
Any branch that has been broken by the weather — and this includes trees — should be pruned. Rips and breaks are an open invitation to pests and disease of all kinds. Protect these plants with timely pruning since a little maintenance now can save more work and treatment costs later.
Upright evergreens, various shrubs and forms of dwarf evergreens often splay open from the snow. While it’s best to bundle these shrubs before the snow flies, they can still be pulled back together after the fact. Garden centers have netting and other materials to wrap around evergreens to keep them in their natural, upright position. Remember to remove the material in the summer once the plant starts to grow and re-establish its natural form. Binding materials, if not removed, can girdle the plant and eventually kill it.
Check for moisture
Periodically check the soil around trees and other plants. If soil is dry and the ground is not frozen, then water plants with a hose attached to a sprinkler or a deep-root watering device. This is top of the list for winter-time TLC for your plants, especially for areas without snow cover.
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.