By Jodi Torpey
Is there such a thing as winter gardening in the Mountain region? The answer is yes, but not in the same way there’s winter gardening in the South, the Southwest, or Southern California.
Winter gardening in our region means taking care of the landscape so it can bounce back to life in spring. Winter gardening tasks include taking care of trees, planning for winter watering, and then, finally, enjoying the landscape’s simple beauty.
Winter Tree Care
Protect the young bark of newly planted trees from frost cracking and animal browsing with paper tree wrap. Thanksgiving is the time to wrap tree trunks; Easter to unwrap them.
Before the ground freezes, take time to give trees a deep drink of water. Then, when temperatures are in the 40s and there’s no snow cover, plan on ways to water trees every six weeks.
Another good way to care for trees in winter is to prune branches that have the potential to break under a heavy snow load. Be especially vigilant during storms, so you can gently remove the snow weighing down branches before they break.
Winter Care for Perennials
Plan also to give your perennial gardens deep watering several times during winter. Winter watering is especially important when the garden lacks consistent moisture and daytime temperatures warm above 40 degrees.
To make winter watering easier, place a soaker hose through the garden during fall and cover it with mulch. When you’re ready to water, connect a garden hose and water perennials early in the day. Remember to disconnect the hose from the spigot when you’re done.
Enjoy Winter’s Garden Beauty
When the landscape is quiet, there’s time to revel in simple gardening tasks. Avoid the empty look of barren planting pots and create containers with evergreen branches, conifer cuttings, curly willow stems, dried grasses, and pinecones. Those dried arrangements add seasonal interest to front porches and back steps.
Instead of being housebound during cold weather, bundle up and step outside. The winter garden offers beauty that only this season can bring. It’s also a good time to evaluate the landscape and make planting plans for next gardening season.
What are some of your favorite winter gardening tasks in your Mountain region garden?