2013 was a rough winter for us in Gastonia, North Carolina. We experienced the polar vortex, the arctic blast, and thunder snow. Did a couple of those 60 degree and sunny days get you antsy for the arrival of spring? Not quite sure what type of landscaping tasks you can do to get a head start? Divide and conquer. Let’s put everything into 3 buckets – winter debris, pruning and feeding, and winter damage repair to give you a head start on spring lawn care and landscaping needs.
WINTER DEBRIS REMOVAL
Let’s start with the most obvious and easiest task on the checklist – cleaning up winter debris. Even if your last leaf removal on the lawn was in December, you still may have some leaves in the grass. Beech trees and several varieties of oak trees are late droppers – their leaves die, but linger on the branches. A spring clean-up is in order to vacuum or rake up the leaves on the turf because it’s time to apply the first round of pre-emergent herbicide now. It is advantageous for the chemicals to reach the soil, and not be trapped on top of leaves, twigs, branches, sticks, and gum balls.
GARDENING TASKS - PRUNE AND FEED
Pruning before new growth and warm weather helps to keep plants from being susceptible to disease and clears unsightly branches and old blooms from last year. It’s time now to prune summer flowering plants that flower on new growth (they do not set buds in the fall): roses, butterfly bushes, hibiscus, and rose of sharon. It’s time now to prune camellias that have already bloomed (sasanqua and early blooming japonicas). Do not prune ornamentals that bloom in spring, such as azaleas, forsythia, quince, spireas, and late blooming japonica camellias or you will remove future blooms. Broad leaved evergreens such as hollies and nandinas can be cut back now and will fill in during the spring. The best time to prune liriope (monkey grass) is now, before new growth sprouts. Cut as low as you can without harming the crown. Crape myrtle trees may also be shaped and thinned at this time.
Remember those pansies that were planted in the fall? Although the plants were fed during installation, it’s time to give them a boost to help perk up for the spring, especially after the harsh weather. We prefer to fertilize pansies with Osmocote – it contains slow release pellets that last up to 4 months.
WINTER DAMAGE MANAGEMENT
This year we did see a fair amount of cold damage to plants. Both narrow and broad-leaved evergreens, such as pines, junipers, Leyland cypress, arborvitae, azaleas, rhododendrons, hollies, boxwoods, nandinas, and photinias (red tips), are also subject to winter injury and desiccation. Winter burn occurs when there is low soil moisture, freezing temperatures, and/or strong blowing winds.
Winter burn can present itself as discolored foliage (browned or bleached coloration), dead branch tips or damaged flower blooms. This can sometimes be confused with plant disease symptoms and therefore proper diagnosis is important for implementation of management strategies.
Regardless of the type of winter injury seen, often it is beneficial to wait until spring to assess the extent of the damage. Prune dead twigs and branches back to about an inch from live tissue or to the branch collar of the next live branch. Depending on the extent of the damage, the plant will likely drop the dead/damaged leaves and produce new green foliage. Removing the dead and damaged leaves and blooms will help stimulate new plant growth and reduce the chance of infection from secondary plant disease organisms.
Once the weather warms up, it is important to fertilize the injured plants at the appropriate time and irrigate the plants well throughout the season, if possible. Many times, plants injured by cold temperatures are more susceptible to drought stress later in the summer.
Morrison Lawn & Landscape is ready to take the work off your hands and help you to prepare your landscape for the spring. If you have interest for us to visit your Gastonia, NC property for a free consultation for lawn service and landscaping needs, contact us today at (704) 813-2545. Click here to contact us via email.