Plant-Care-Calendar
Tasks for Every Month of the Year

This Plant-Care-Calendar will take you through the year with your gardening tasks so you'll always know what you should be doing and when, and how your garden can bring you lots of fun and pleasure throughout the year.

I actually look forward to the "off-times" of the year which give me a chance to do other creative things other than care for my flowers and plants!

It's a good time to make that cottage walk you've been wanting to do, or maybe paint a birdhouse. It's also a good time to clear out any weeds or underbrush that tend to hide in the growing seasons under your larger plants such as a bush-sized salvia or tall lariope. Adding extra mulch at that time also helps to 'winterize' your beds and make them more attractive when not many plants are at their best.

Put in that garden bridge, arbor, boulder, or gazebo in the months that are more comfortable weather-wise as well.

I even dig beds and put in borders in the 'off months' so they'll be fresh and ready for my spring flowers when it's time to put in those beautiful ornamental shrubs and flowers.

There really are endless things you can do so that when spring and summer do arrive, you'll have all the time you need for your gardens.

Just click on whichever month you need below and it will take you to a page with tips and pictures as well as your necessary maintenance tasks that need to be done throughout the year.

January February March April May June July August September October November December

January Monthly Tips Look for spots to add plants for winter bird food and cover. Recycle your Christmas tree using boughs and greens as mulch for evergreen groundcovers and shallow rooted perennials. Brush snow off evergreen shrubs and trees, but do not touch ice-covered shrubs and trees as you may cause damage to the plants. Prune shade and ornamental trees (except maple, birch and walnut). If temperatures are mild for a few days spray evergreens with anti-desiccant (Wilt-Pruf) to prevent winter burn. Keep salt away from plants and planting beds. Check rodent bait stations set out in fall. Plan your spring landscape design with your McKay representative. ENJOY YOU WINTER LANDSCAPE!

February Monthly Tips Prune fruit trees. Cut pussy willows and other early spring blooming plants to force inside for a bit of early spring. Check rodent bait stations set out in fall. Plan your spring landscape design with your McKay representative. For best inventory selection, order now. ENJOY YOU WINTER LANDSCAPE!

March Monthly Tips Finalize any planting plans for spring planting. Start spring pruning this month. Clean up any leftover foliage and stems on perennial plants. If needed, move any dormant plants this month. Unwrap trees wrapped in late fall. Cut back ornamental grasses at the end of the month. Avoid pruning spring flowering plants until after they bloom. Fertilize trees and shrubs. Just before buds open, spray dormant oil for scale and over wintering insects. ENJOY YOUR SPRING LANDSCAPE! **************************** from other website - early spring cool climate tips: Cool Climates: In early spring, start seeds indoors for slow-to-bloom plants like begonias. As soon as soil thaws, dig or till as needed to prepare for planting cold-tolerant annuals. Plant seeds of hardy annuals when soil is ready. Start a new compost heap and turn it regularly. Begin to work aged compost into soil. Prepare soil for planting tender annuals. When all danger of frost is past and soil has warmed, direct sow or transplant tender annuals outdoors (use transplants in zones 5 and north). As annuals begin to grow, pinch back plants for bushier growth and better flowering. In late spring, begin weeding and watching for pests. ************************************* Warm Climates (EARLY SPRING): Sow annuals to hide the ripening leaves of spring bulbs. Pinch annuals as they grow for better flowering. When danger of frost is past, plant tender annuals outdoors. In late spring, plant a second crop of early-blooming annuals. Check garden centers and nurseries for annuals on sale. Check sale plants carefully before buying. Mulch the garden. Weed, water, and deadhead as needed. Watch for pests and take action at the first sign of trouble. Pinch annuals as they grow for bushier plants and better flowering. *************************

April Monthly Tips Start of spring planting season. Finish spring pruning this month. Transplant and separate any perennials, if necessary. Work in compost, bone meal and soil amendments such as mushroom compost. Lightly re-mulch beds, if needed, to conserve moisture and discourage weeds. Stake tall and heavy perennials. Remove any winter protection. There is still time to do your next landscape project-call your local representative. ENJOY YOUR EARLY SPRING LANDSCAPE!

May Monthly Tips Spring planting month, plant new McKay trees and shrubs. Prune spring flowering trees and shrubs after they finish flowering. Cut off old blossom stems on tulips and daffodils. Cultivate flower beds and shrub borders, fertilize plants, if needed. ENJOY THE SPRING COLOR! ******************************** Cool Climates: EARLY SUMMER--- plant fast-growing annuals for a second crop of flowers. Deadhead, weed, and water as needed. Keep watching for pests, and take action at the first sign of trouble. Remember to mulch the garden. Check local garden centers and nurseries for annuals on sale. Check sale plants carefully before buying. Start collecting flowers for drying. Start a garden diary and rate annuals that perform well for inclusion in next year's garden. Visit local botanical gardens to see display annuals and gather ideas for next year's garden. *********************** WARM CLIMATES -- EARLY SUMMER Warm Climates: Plant a second crop of late-blooming annuals for continued color in the garden. Remember to fertilize annuals in containers and make sure they have plenty of water. Keep deadheading flowers for continued bloom unless you want to save seeds. Start collecting flowers for drying. Start a garden diary and rate annuals' performance; include the best in next year's garden. Visit local botanical gardens to see display annuals and gather ideas for next year's garden.

************************** June Monthly Tips Continue planting this month or start planning for early fall planting. Prune hedges and new growth on foundation shrubs and evergreens. Prune spent flowers from perennials to encourage new growth. Apply plant food to flowers and vegetables. Fertilize roses monthly and watch for disease and insects. Use rose food with systemic insecticide. Allow bulb foliage to ripen and wither before removal. ENJOY THE EARLY SUMMER COLOR!

July Monthly Tips Prune all evergreens and shrubs for shape early this month, as needed. Trim off old blossom heads from small spireas to promote a second bloom in August. Keep beds free from new weed growth. This is your last chance to fertilize evergreens, shrubs, and trees until late fall. Deep-water your trees and shrubs during times of extreme heat or drought. Start planning for fall planting season and order nursery stock form McKay. ENJOY THE SUMMER COLOR! ***************** LATE SUMMER Cool Climates: Collect seeds of species and cultivars that will breed true to type. Take cuttings of impatiens, begonias, coleus, and geraniums to root for winter houseplants. Dig and pot up marigolds for a few more weeks of bloom indoors. At night, use spunbonded polyester covers to protect late-blooming annuals from early frosts. Remove covers during the day. Remember to keep turning compost heaps. Have our soil tested. Start sending for seed catalogues. Join plant societies that offer seed exchanges. Clean up any weeds, frost-damaged plants, and faded flowers in the garden. Clean and store tools. Turn off outdoor water taps

August Monthly Tips Watering in dry spells relieves stress on plants. New plantings need approximately one inch of rain per week. Supplement by watering if Mother Nature doesn't. Check soil before watering to avoid over-watering. This is a great month for transplanting iris. Remove spent blossoms on perennials. Meet with your McKay representative to plan the next phase of your planting. ENJOY THE LATE SUMMER BERRIES AND BLOOMS!

September Monthly Tips Start of fall planting season. Container grown and balled and burlapped plants can be planted now. Think about planting plants for bird food this fall. Do any minor pruning on shrubs and hedges, if needed. Divide and move perennials, work in compost, bone meal and soil amendments. Plant bulbs for spring color. Protect flowers and vegetables against early frost. ENJOY THE FALL COLORS!

October Monthly Tips Another great fall planting month. Bare-root plants are available starting later this month for fall planting, as well as container and balled and burlapped plants. Start cleaning up perennial beds. Do not cut back ornamental grasses until March or April. Many perennial seed heads catch winter snows and attract birds. Mark late emerging perennials to avoid damage from spring cultivating. This is the ideal time to transplant and divide peonies and iris, amend soil with bone meal. Dig and store dahlia, canna and gladiola bulbs. ENJOY THE FALL COLORS!

November Monthly Tips Continue fall planting as weather allows with freshly dug trees from McKay. Wrap trunks of young shade trees, fruit trees and crab trees with tree wrap. Good time to prune dormant trees, especially fruit trees. Protect delicate plants, like tea roses, from winter damage. Finish cleaning perennial garden, put off pruning perennials with winter interest until spring. Make sure evergreens go into winter with good moisture. Spray evergreens, especially broadleaf's, with anti-desiccant (Wilt-Pruf) to prevent winter burn. Protect shrub roses by mounding hardwood mulch over the plants ENJOY FALLS FINAL COLORS!

December Monthly Tips Plan your landscape design with your local McKay representative for spring. Order now for best inventory selections. Create Christmas decorations with trimmings from overgrown evergreens, berries from Viburnum Americana, and accenting them with perennial seedpods. Use Christmas lights on landscape plants for holiday appeal. Avoid using extremely large bulbs that might damage plants with their intense heat. Give McKay gift certificates as Christmas gifts. ENJOY YOUR WINTER LANDSCAPE! More ideas for Regional Calendar of Garden Care (fr.Hm&Garden-site) from other website - early spring cool climate tips: Cool Climates: In early spring, start seeds indoors for slow-to-bloom plants like begonias. As soon as soil thaws, dig or till as needed to prepare for planting cold-tolerant annuals. Plant seeds of hardy annuals when soil is ready. Start a new compost heap and turn it regularly. Begin to work aged compost into soil. Prepare soil for planting tender annuals. When all danger of frost is past and soil has warmed, direct sow or transplant tender annuals outdoors (use transplants in zones 5 and north). As annuals begin to grow, pinch back plants for bushier growth and better flowering. In late spring, begin weeding and watching for pests.

Warm Climates: Sow annuals to hide the ripening leaves of spring bulbs. Pinch annuals as they grow for better flowering. When danger of frost is past, plant tender annuals outdoors. In late spring, plant a second crop of early-blooming annuals. Check garden centers and nurseries for annuals on sale. Check sale plants carefully before buying. Mulch the garden. Weed, water, and deadhead as needed. Watch for pests and take action at the first sign of trouble. Pinch annuals as they grow for bushier plants and better flowering.

Cool Climates: In early summer, plant fast-growing annuals for a second crop of flowers. Deadhead, weed, and water as needed. Keep watching for pests, and take action at the first sign of trouble. Remember to mulch the garden. Check local garden centers and nurseries for annuals on sale. Check sale plants carefully before buying. Start collecting flowers for drying. Start a garden diary and rate annuals that perform well for inclusion in next year's garden. Visit local botanical gardens to see display annuals and gather ideas for next year's garden.

Warm Climates: Plant a second crop of late-blooming annuals for continued color in the garden. Remember to fertilize annuals in containers and make sure they have plenty of water. Keep deadheading flowers for continued bloom unless you want to save seeds. Start collecting flowers for drying. Start a garden diary and rate annuals' performance; include the best in next year's garden. Visit local botanical gardens to see display annuals and gather ideas for next year's garden.

Cool Climates: Collect seeds of species and cultivars that will breed true to type. Take cuttings of impatiens, begonias, coleus, and geraniums to root for winter houseplants. Dig and pot up marigolds for a few more weeks of bloom indoors. At night, use spunbonded polyester covers to protect late-blooming annuals from early frosts. Remove covers during the day. Remember to keep turning compost heaps. Have our soil tested. Start sending for seed catalogues. Join plant societies that offer seed exchanges. Clean up any weeds, frost-damaged plants, and faded flowers in the garden. Clean and store tools. Turn off outdoor water taps.

Warm Climates: Plant seeds of cold-hardy annuals for extended winter bloom. Gather seeds of species and cultivars that will breed true to type. Take cuttings of impatiens, begonias, coleus, and geraniums to root for winter houseplants. At night, use spunbonded polyester covers to protect late-blooming annuals from early frosts. Remove covers during the day. Continue to weed, water, fertilize, and watch for pests. Remember to turn compost heaps. Start sending for seed catalogues.

Cool Climates: Plan next year's annual garden. Order seeds early for the best selection. When seeds arrive, separate the packets into groups according to their growing needs. You might have one group to start early indoors, a group to direct-sow as soon as garden soil is workable, and a group of fast-growing plants to sow outdoors when frost danger is past. In late winter, start slow-blooming annuals on windowsills or under lights. Start geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) in February for June flowers. Turn compost heaps when they are not frozen. Wash and sterilize clay and plastic pots for reuse next spring. Save wood ashes for the garden. In late winter, start attending local and regional flower shows.

Warm Climates: Weed, water, deadhead, and fertilize annuals blooming in winter garden. Have your soil tested. Plant next year's garden. Order seeds early for best selection. In late winter, start seeds for slow-to-bloom plants like begonias. For geraniums in early May, start seeds in late December. As soon as soil thaws, dig or till as needed. Plant pansies in the garden as soon as soil is workable. Start a new compost heap and remember to turn it regularly. Begin to work aged compost into the soil. Wash and sterilize clay and plastic pots for reuse in spring. Start attending regional flower shows. TIPS FOR SPRING FROM MARTHA STEWART:

Follow the 10 tips outlined below for a welcoming garden that's filled with color and fragrance -- and song.

Survey the Yard Make note of tree limbs that should be removed or cabled, especially those that overhang structures. Hire an arborist to maintain large trees.Cut down last year's perennial foliage, and toss it into the compost pile. Rake mulch from beds planted with bulbs before foliage appears, and refresh mulch in other planting areas after soil warms. Check fences, steps, and pathways for disrepair caused by freezing and thawing.

Order Tools and Plants Tune up tools so everything is ready when things start growing. Make note of what is missing, and order tools for the new growing season. Choose new plants for the garden. Order perennials, trees, and shrubs for spring planting.

Get Ready to Mow Send the mower and leaf blower for servicing, or if you have the right tools, sharpen the mower blades yourself. Refill your mower with oil, install fresh spark plugs, and lubricate moving parts if necessary. Clear the lawn of winter debris, and look for areas that need reseeding before mowing.

Prune Trees and Shrubs Remove dead, damaged, and diseased branches from woody plants. Thin and trim summer-blooming shrubs such as butterfly bush, hydrangea, and most roses, except for old-fashioned once bloomers. Prune cold-damaged wood after plants resume spring growth. Prune spring-blooming shrubs and trees after flowering.

Take a Soil Test Check soil pH with a home soil- test kit, taking several samples from different planting areas for an accurate reading. Enrich soil as necessary: Add dolomitic lime to raise the pH or elemental sulfur to lower the pH.

Prepare New Beds Clear the planting area as soon as soil can be worked, removing sod or weeds and debris. Spread a 4-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure and any amendments over soil, and cultivate it to a depth of 10 to 12 inches with a spading fork.

Plant Plant bare-root trees, shrubs, and perennials such as hostas and daylilies by early spring. Choose a cool, cloudy day if possible. Transplant container-grown plants anytime during the growing season except midsummer; be sure to water them thoroughly. Sow seeds of cool-season flowers like sweet peas, poppies, and calendula, and vegetables such as lettuce, parsley, and spinach.

Fertilize Apply balanced fertilizer (6-6-6 or 8-8-8), fish emulsion, or other soil amendments recommended by soil-test results around trees and shrubs when new growth appears. Spread high-acid fertilizer and pine-needle mulch around acid-loving shrubs like azaleas and camellias. Begin fertilizing perennials when active growth resumes.

Start a Compost Pile Start a compost pile, or use a compost bin, if you don't have one already. Begin by collecting plant debris and leaves raked up from the garden. Chop these up first to speed decomposition. Add equal amounts "brown" (carbon-rich) materials like dried leaves and straw and "green" (nitrogen-rich) materials like grass clippings and weeds in even layers with water and a compost bioactivator. Turn regularly. Continue adding to the pile throughout the season for rich, homemade compost next spring.

Clean Bird Feeders and Baths Disinfect the feeders by scrubbing with weak bleach solution (1/4 cup bleach: 2 gallons warm water). Rinse and dry the feeders thoroughly before refilling them.Scrub birdbaths with bleach solution, then rinse them thoroughly and refill, changing water weekly. Clean birdbaths and feeders regularly throughout the season. from flower gardening made easy:

EARLY SPRING Early spring garden guide: Around the yard

Start winter cleanup of the lawn when the grass is no longer sopping wet and planting beds stop being a sea of mud. Rake your lawn to get rid of dead growth, stray leaves, twigs and winter debris and let light and air to the soil level, encouraging the grass to grow.

Re-seed bare or damaged patches of lawn. Scratch up the soil with a rake first. Mix a shovel of soil with a couple of scoops of grass seed and spread in the patch you're fixing. Rake level and keep well-watered until seeds germinate and the new grass establishes.

Remove tree guards or burlap winter protection from any young trees or shrubs. Try not to leave tree guards in place over the summer. They keep rabbits and mice from nibbling on tender bark over the winter, but trees don't need them in summer. They don't allow enough air movement around the base of the trunk and that can promote rot of the bark.

Transplant any existing shrubs you want to move before they begin to leaf out.

Weeds start growing vigorously early, so when you spot them, go to it. Getting on top of the weeding now means a lot less work later. Weeds are easier to pull out while their roots are still shallow in early spring.

Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees, magnolias, crabapples and shrubs such as euonymus to control scale insects and other overwintering pests. Use this organic pest control method when the buds are swelling but the leaves haven't opened yet. Apply when temperatures are between 40 and 70 degrees F (4-21 degrees C).

Get your lawn mower checked and its blades sharpened if you didn't get the job done in late winter. Sharp blades cut better and leave your lawn grass healthier.

Early spring garden jobs: In the flower garden Don't be in a rush to remove winter mulch or to cut back evergreen plants such as lavender until temperatures are reliably warm.

Freeze and thaw cycles over the winter may given some of your plants the heave-ho. Replant any perennials that the frost has heaved out of the ground as soon as you can.

Cut back any remaining dead perennial foliage from last season (trimmings can go into the compost).

Cut back ornamental grasses. (More details on this job and care of grasses.)

Remove winter protection of mounded earth from roses. Prune rose bushes before they start to leaf out. (More information on growing roses.)

Resist the urge to start digging in your flower beds too early. You can damage the soil's structure. If you pick up a handful of soil, it should fall apart, not stick together like glue. When it's dry enough, you can start to dig beds and add compost or manure in preparation for planting. (How to get your soil ready for planting.)

Grass growth is vigorous in the early spring garden, so edge your flower beds with a sharp trench between them and the grass to keep it in bounds. Repeat this job a couple of times through the season or installing permanent edging goes a long way towards having a lower maintenance flower garden.

MID SPRING: Mid-spring garden jobs to do in the yard

Mid-spring is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs.

Prune broad-leaved evergreen plants and evergreen or deciduous hedges. (More information on pruning woody plants.)

Prune spring-flowering shrubs right after their blossoms fade.

To encourage thick, compact growth on pines and other needled evergreens, pinch the new candles (a term for the new growth on evergreens) to remove half of the new growth.

Keep up with the job of mowing and set your mower to a height of about three inches. Don't remove more than one-third of the blades at one cutting.

Aerate your lawn or have the job done by a lawn service.

Water newly planted trees and shrubs, ground cover plants and perennials if there isn't enough rain.

Your most important mid-spring garden job is to weed, weed, weed. Weeds are growing most vigorously now. Getting them now will mean less weeding later on in the season and you'll prevent weeds from going to seed.

Mulch under shrubs. Mid-spring jobs in the flower garden Continue to plant and transplant perennials.

Divide perennials and ornamental grasses that need it.

Plant container gardens.

Plant frost-tender annuals and dahlias and summer-flowering bulbs such as gladioli after the last frost date for your region.

Label any new plants so you'll remember what they are or draw a map of your garden.

Note of any mid-spring garden gaps that could be filled with spring bulbs for next year and buy new plants to fill any holes now.

Mulch your flowerbeds. (Information on mulching your garden.)

Another important spring garden job is to stake perennials such as delphiniums and peonies before they've grown too tall (bamboo sticks and string do a better job than most commercial supports).

Water your garden if it doesn't rain enough. (Most plants need an inch of moisture per week.)

Apply fertilizer if needed. For more garden care information

More garden care tips

Your mid-spring garden tulips - what to do after they finish blooming

Back to main garden calendar page

Flower Gardening Home

EARLY SUMMER What to do now: Around the yard Shear deciduous or ever- green hedges.

Mow your lawn as often as needed, but don't cut it too short - never remove more than one third of the grass blades at a one time. When the lawn is growing vigorously, it's better to mow it every four or five days than to wait a week. (More lawn care tips.)

Keep weeding. (Easy to say, but hard to do sometimes!)

Continue to water as needed, especially newly planted trees and shrubs and perennials. They need a good soaking every week in their first couple of months. If it doesn't rain enough, you will need to water. (More on good watering practices.)

Keep an eye out for insect and disease problems.

Deadhead rhododendrons and lilacs and prune spring-flowering shrubs that have finished blooming. (More information on pruning.) To do: In the flower garden Deadhead annuals, roses, and perennials to groom the early summer garden and encourage repeat blooming.

Begin to spray roses every week with a fungicide or baking soda solution to protect against black spot disease. To make your own fungicide spray, dissolve 1 to 2 teaspoon of baking soda with a few drops of dish-soap in half a gallon (2 liters) of water.

Pinch back asters and mums to encourage compact growth and more blooms.

Cut down yellowing bulb foliage.

Note spots in the garden that could use spring bulbs, and decide which bulbs would be most suitable. (Spring bulb ideas.)

MID SUMMER: To do: Around the yard Keep watering your garden plants to help them through the heat and dryness; if you're going on holidays, ask a friend or neighbor to water the garden and container plants.

Don't forget to water your trees and shrubs, as they need moisture too. This is especially important if you have just planted trees and shrubs this season.

Raise the mower setting to cut the lawn higher so it can better withstand hot, dry weather of the mid-summer garden season. For low maintenance lawn care tips, click here.

To save water if there are watering restrictions in your community, consider allowing your lawn to go dormant. It will green up again when the rains return.

Remove weeds in the mid-summer garden before they set seed; look under plants for stray weeds you've missed. To do: In the flower garden Keep deadheading perennials to encourage a second flush of bloom. (More perennial gardening tips.)

Pinch back asters and chrysanthemums to encourage bushy growth and more flowers.

Cut back any rampant growth or overly exuberant plants that are smothering their neighbors and prune back perennials that go dormant (bleeding heart and oriental poppies, for example).

Take garden notes and/or photographs to plan future plantings. For more mid-summer garden ideas, visit your local garden center and see what they're selling that's in bloom now.

Keep on top of the weeding. (Luckily weeds don't grow as quickly in the mid-summer garden.)

If the color in your flower garden seems to be over, make a list of plants to add to give flower and foliage color in late summer and fall. For ideas, click here.

Look at bulb catalogues and start making a list of flower bulbs you would like to add for more color in the garden next spring.

EARLY FALL Early fall garden jobs: In the yard

One important job in the early fall garden is to continue to water your plants, especially your evergreens and trees and shrubs if it isn't raining enough. Going into the winter well hydrated will help keep your plants thriving. For more winterizing tips for trees and shrubs, click here.

Aerate your lawn and reseed any dead or thin spots. This is the best time of the year to lay sod, overseed or start a lawn from seed because temperatures are cooler and rain tends to be more plentiful than in the hot summer months. (More lawn care tips.)

Do soil preparation for any new beds you want to have ready for spring planting. (More information on soil preparation.)

This is a good time to plan or do landscaping projects, such as walls, walkways, patios, and decks. (Landscape design tips.) Early fall garden to-do list: In the flower garden Once they're past their prime, empty containers of annuals and store frost-sensitive containers in the basement or the garage. (More information on container gardening.)

Don't be in a great rush to cut back all your perennials in the early fall garden. Seed heads and foliage that's coloring up can be beautiful, and the seeds are food for migrating birds. Just cut back plants that are diseased, those looking past their prime, or those that may become "weeds" if allowed to self-seed freely.

If you have too little color in the garden now, visit your local garden center for some ideas on late-season flowers to add, and take advantage of end of season sales.

Plant or transplant perennials. Divide overgrown perennials—this is the ideal time to divide and move peonies and bearded and Siberian irises.

Pull or dig out summer annuals that are past their prime and plant mums and colorful kale for fall interest.

After the first frost, dig up dahlias, cannas, gladioli, and similar non-hardy bulbs for winter storage.

Make notes about garden changes or plants that you might want to move in the spring.

Buy and plant spring-flowering bulbs while they're in plentiful supply.

LATE FALL

How to get your garden ready for winter

It's late fall – time to forget about the garden, right? Not so fast – getting your garden ready for winter can make a big difference next spring. Instead of playing catch-up and fixing winter's damage, you'll be enjoying your garden as soon as the first spring bulbs come up.

Use this checklist to help with the late fall jobs around the yard and garden.

Getting the garden ready for winter: Garden jobs around the yard

Continue to water trees, especially evergreens, until the ground freezes. Evergreens need a good store of moisture going into winter because they don't lose their leaves, which means they continue to transpire (give off water vapor) through the cold months. More information on winter care for your trees and shrubs.

This is a good time of the year to transplant shrubs or small trees that you have earmarked for relocation. Do this when the leaves of deciduous woody plants turn color and fall.

Rake up fallen leaves from your lawn each week instead of leaving the job until all the leaves have fallen. In fall lawn grass still needs sunlight as it is creating sugars to store in its root system for good growth next spring. Leaving the leaves on top of the lawn will smother the grass and weaken it. (More lawn care tips.)

Consider shredding fall leaves and using them as winter mulch on flower beds. You can also add shredded leaves to the compost pile. In a season or so, they'll make the best treat your garden soil can have. You can use a chipper shredder, if you have one, or just run your lawn mower over the leaves.

If you spray your lawn to control broadleaf weeds, the month of October is the most effective time for this job.

Apply winterizing lawn fertilizer. (Information on what fertilizer to use.)

Do one last weeding and discard any weeds that have seeds on them in the garbage instead of the compost. You don't want those pesky seeds sprouting in your garden later.

In many regions, this is a good time to plant trees and shrubs.

Put plastic or wire mesh (hardware cloth) tree guards around the slender trunks of any new trees and shrubs to protect them from gnawers such as rabbits and mice, and make sure the tree guards go high enough, over the snow line.

Do a final grass cutting and empty the mower of gas. Long grass encourages low temperature fungi.

Why not get your mower serviced and its blade sharpened now so it will be ready for spring? Getting your flower garden ready for winter Whether you cut down dying perennial foliage when you're getting the garden ready for winter is up to you. Some gardeners like to leave seed heads and dried foliage for winter interest and to feed birds. Others prefer to leave neat beds ready for a show of spring-flowering bulbs. But whatever you cut down now, you don't have to clean up in the spring.

A good compromise is to remove leaves and stalks that frost turns to mush and any that are diseased, but keep some ornamental grasses and the perennials with seed heads that provide winter food to birds. When cutting plants down, prune perennials to 4 to 5 inches of the ground.

Pull out any last frosted annuals and add spent plant material to your compost.

Do a final weeding and edging of flower beds.

This is your last chance to plant spring-flowering bulbs before the ground freezes hard.

Don't cut roses back now – do it early spring. Hill up hybrid tea roses with soil for winter protection if necessary. (More on protecting roses over the winter.)

Once the ground freezes, apply a layer of winter mulch to perennial beds – don't do this too early or you'll provide winter shelter for rodents.

WINTER

Tips for winter care of trees and shrubs Watering: Good winter care starts with thorough watering in the fall. When the garden season draws to a close, it is tempting to just forget about your plants. But you should continue to water all woody plants - especially newly planted trees and shrubs and all evergreens in the fall.

Water them well until the ground freezes, and make sure you water adequately through a dry fall. (These plants will need the equivalent of one inch of rain per week. In a wet fall, you can relax.)

Evergreens and broadleaf evergreens don't lose their leaves, so they need a good store of moisture going into winter because they continue to transpire (give off water vapor) through the cold months.

Most winter damage to evergreens doesn't actually come from cold, but from the drying effects of late winter sun and wind. With the soil frozen hard, plant roots can't take up water to make up for moisture losses from transpiration and, as a result, dehydration can cause browning or burning of foliage.

Winter care of trees and shrubs: To wrap or not? Personally, when considering winter care of trees and shrubs, I don't go crazy with burlap wrap. It's extra work and doesn't look great. After all, the whole point of evergreens is to give you something green to look at in the winter. Contrary to popular belief, most established evergreens hardy in your region don't need to be wrapped.

However, as with many things in gardening, there are exceptions. Some evergreens, such as dwarf Alberta spruce, are prone to winter-burn, so they should be covered, as should newly planted evergreens. (New plants haven't had time grow extensive roots that help them take up enough moisture to prevent excessive water losses.)

To make a windbreak around vulnerable plants, hammer four wooden stakes into the ground and staple on a burlap covering. Never use plastic, or your plants could "cook" on sunny days. (Remember the greenhouse effect?)

More tips for winter care of woody plants: If your plants get salt spray from the road, burlap may help, but wrap them with a double layer, not a single layer. To avoid having to cover your evergreens, don't plant them near a road that gets salted, or plant salt-tolerant species such as junipers.

Protect broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendron, pieris and laurel from the drying effects of winter sun and wind with an anti-desiccant spray such as Wilt-Pruf, which coats foliage with a protective waxy film. You can also wrap with burlap, if you must.

To help preserve moisture, cover the root area of evergreens and broadleaf evergreens with a three-inch thick layer of leaf or bark mulch.

Protect upright evergreen junipers and cedars from breakage due to ice and snow by wrapping branches with heavy string or mesh covers sold for this purpose. Once fastened into place, you'll hardly see the string or mesh.

Protect young trees by putting plastic tree guards around the bottom of their trunks to prevent damage from gnawers such as rabbits and mice. Make sure the tree guards go high enough - over the snow line. (I always remove them in the spring because it looks better and then I don't have the problem of the guards trapping moisture against the bark in the summer and attracting insects.)

If rabbits are a big problem in your area, winter care of trees and shrubs should include putting chicken wire cages around the plants they find most tasty.

Prevent rabbit and rodent damage with a pest repellent spray that you apply on lower trunks, branches and stems. Such products generally have to be reapplied after wet weather. url where this chart came from: http://www.lawnflite.co.uk/gardencare_calendar.html


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