This month signals a real winding down of outdoor garden activities. There are some things to prepare for before turning your attention to indoor gardening! These tasks are best done at the end of the month: Sun & Wind Protection is job one for some trees and shrubs.
- You may want to wrap shrubs and ornamentals with burlap, particularly if the plantings are recent (1-3 years) or fragile.
- Remember to water (prior to the ground freezing) if we have a week without rain.
- Be sure to apply an anti-desiccant to your broadleaf evergreens. Rhododendrons, Azaleas, evergreens, and ornamental shrubs will benefit greatly from a product such as “Wilt-Stop”. Cold weather moisture loss can cause severe wilting, shock, or plant failure, so protect your valuable plants now.
- Make sure shrubs, trees and perennials are mulched with 2-3 inches of bark mulch after the ground is frozen. This is more important than most people think.
- Use wooden shrub protectors to protect foundation shrubs.
Mulch will save you plant losses through the winter, BUT it should be put down between the ground beginning to freeze and snow beginning to fly. The end of this month should be the perfect time to mulch the beds. If you already have mulch down, that’s all right, just don’t pile more on until later. When we say “mulch”, substitute the word mulch with a material of your choice. Whether it’s bagged shredded bark, pine needles, chopped leaves, or straw, it achieves the same purpose.
Roses need special attention at this time of year. Clean up around the plant and then mound 10 to 12 inches of soil around the base. This is done after a hard frost. This will help to keep the temperature more consistent around the graft and prevent freeze/thaw damage. For more on protecting roses, click here.
Lawns will love it if you go over fallen leaves with the mower. Once or twice a week as leaves fall, chop them and leave them. Michigan State University turf specialists have put plenty of time into evaluating this method of fertilization and the results are obvious. This may be the best way to get nutrients into your lawn. Try it and see if you aren’t pleasantly rewarded in the spring.