Saturday, December 27, 2008

December-January Checklist for Your Backyard

The heart of winter is not a time for a lot of outdoor activity. But it's the ideal time to look ahead to the coming spring and make a few plans. And in order to not feel cut off from the companionship of plants, gardeners can certainly look after houseplants—including gift plants. Keep your mind on your garden, even in this quiet season, for ideas and inspiration that can be sown or nurtured now.

Prevent winter damage to your evergreen trees, hedges and shrubs. Wrap hedges with landscape netting and loosely tie branches of upright evergreens with cloth strips. This prevents snow from weighing down limbs and breaking branches.

If you're planning a major new addition this year, such as a pergola, gazebo or water garden, research it now. Browse gardening books and magazines for ideas and inspiration. Give a contractor a call and talk it over.

Houseplants can struggle in the low light of the winter months. Help them out by moving them temporarily to a sunnier, south-facing window. Keep the soil mix moist, but don't fertilize.

Avoid the rush and shop now for seed-starting projects. Check out sterile potting mixes, containers, seed-starting contraptions, grow lights, labels and the like.

Repot houseplants. Divide clumps, trim off excess growth, and set back in fresh potting soil. The plants will look nicer, but the task should revitalize them, too.

Plan a new garden bed on paper. A simple sketch on plain or graph paper will do, so long as your dimensions are right. As for the plants you wish to include, be sure to research and account for their mature sizes.

Some late-winter day, inspect the yard for damage. Clip or cut off limbs or branches that are obviously dead or broken. If you're not sure a branch is dead or just dormant, play it safe, and check back later.

Taken from