Winter Gardening: Protect your plants while preparing for spring

By Andrew Freiden - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The weather might be cold, but that doesn't mean you should stay inside. There's work to be done.

While the plants lay dormant, you need to get active. Horticulturist Peggy Singlemann at Maymont says those hardy ornamental grasses need some care.

"It's died back from the hard frost. We need to prune it back right now so that we can encourage the spring growth when the weather warms up," said Peggy. "Notice how we've cleaned it out as well. Very clean so the new growth can get sun and light that it needs to grow well."

Do that to your liriope too. You may know it as monkey grass.

"We bring a weed eater out and we cut it as low as we can in February, or March, before the little shoots start coming out of the ground," she said.

Cleaning up and removing dead growth is the theme at Maymont this time of year, and it should be the same for you.

"Any of the disease and insects that you had from the season before could be easily overwintered and appear in the garden next year. So there's a sanitation reason, not just an aesthetic reason," Peggy said.

Put down your mulch now. Peggy recommends shredded pine mulch. It protects your irrigation lines from sun and stops weeds.

"Early spring those weed seeds will start to germinate and grow. A nice layer of mulch will save you a tremendous amount of work getting rid of weeds."

But don't make it too thick. If you pile up more than 2-3", you're inviting those hated voles.

And instead of chopping firewood on a cold winter day, use your hatchet to gently chop down vines like poison ivy. This is the best time of year to do it. If you wait until spring those itch-inducing leaves will be in the way.

If snow strikes again, you can take a broom and gently brush the snow off your evergreens. They do it at Maymont to prevent damage from heavy snow.

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