Often the cooler weather gives us the feeling that we should be working inside instead of tending to our landscape. On the coldest days, this certainly makes sense, but there are a number of things that can and should be done now in our landscape to get them ready for the spring flush.
Although the ideal time may have been while it was a little warmer, you can still get away with transplanting small trees and shrubs. I have successfully transplanted many trees and shrubs all the way through early spring. The key is to not attempt this when the ground is too moist or soggy and, as we all know, to prepare the planting hole as well as possible.
Take out as much of the original root ball as possible to cut down on transplant shock. One trick I use if I only need to move a larger shrub a short distance is to have a flat piece of cardboard nearby. Place the removed shrub or tree on the cardboard and then simply drag the plant to the intended planting site. In doing it this way there is much less chance of losing part of the root ball because the plant is barely lifted off the ground.
Begin now to prune shrubs and trees to shape them and remove dead wood. Remember to leave the spring flowering plants alone unless they need some major overhaul pruning. This is also a great time to check the condition of our pruning equipment. I get the urge every winter to pull out just about everything that has an edge on it and sharpen it. Lean to use a small file or sharpening stone and stay away from the electric grinders.
Now is a good time to do some general maintenance around our flower beds. Remove any existing dead foliage from the annuals and perennials in the landscape. Be sure to mark the spots of perennial plants so you don’t over plant the area in the spring.
Remove old soggy mulch if it becomes matted and add a few inches of fresh pine straw or pine bark. I personally like double-ground pine bark because I have a good source for it and it does not blow around like pine straw.
Scout the lawn for emerged winter annuals and apply the appropriate herbicide if needed. Some people like the colorful display of purple flowers courtesy of the weed Henbit. If your lawn is a little weak, I would just let it go. And, of course, there are others who can’t stand the thought of one stem of clover in their immaculate Bermuda lawn. To each his own I guess.
Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County Extension Coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.