Winter Yard & Garden Preparation

by Elmer Krehbiel, Master Gardener
January 16, 2004

When warm days occur after the big holiday season, its natural for many people to do something in the yard.

Winter Fertilizing

Appling fertilizer on the lawn in winter is a no-no. Warm-season grasses are not growing and we dont feed ear-corn to a baby. Fertilizer applied his time of the year usually delays re-growth of the grass. If fertilizer is applied in the late fall, it has time to soak down into the root zone during the winter, and you may not need to fertilize in the spring.

Fertilizer should be applied around day lily, iris, crape myrtle, strawberry plants, fruit, and shade trees in January, if it was not applied earlier.

Winter Pruning

Pruning may either help or damage landscape plants. The gardener should know why and what needs to be removed. The basic reasons to prune are:

  • to remove unwanted growth;
  • to stimulate new growth;
  • to train into a more desirable shape and to remove old flowers and seed heads.

Spring flowering plants should be pruned after the flowering season, that is, before a new crop of flower buds are started. Evergreen and summer flowering landscape plants should be pruned late in the dormant season, like from January 15 to February 15. If a twig is pruned, the cut should be one-fourth inch above a bud that points outward and at an angle down toward the canter of the plant.

Limbs near the ground on small trees should not be removed until they are about one inch in diameter. If a limb is removed, the cut should be next to the collar, not next to the trunk. The collar is the lump around the limb and next to the trunk.

Other Winter Gardening Measures

Two to three inches of organic matter could be tilled into the flower and vegetable beds. This will increase the air in clay soil and holding material in sandy soil.

All gasoline engines should be started and warmed up at least once each month during the winter, unless they have been winterized. Other chores you might consider are sharpening blades and tools and cleaning sprayers, dusters, etc.

More on Lawn Care

Dr. Elmer Krehbiel is the former President of Keep Brazos Beautiful. See his column in The Eagle.