With the holiday season approaching, many of us trade time in the garden for time preparing for upcoming festivities in the kitchen and at the shopping center. But even as our efforts move indoors, here are a few dos and don’ts to consider for our landscapes.
DO improve your soil by adding compost to vegetable, perennial and shrub beds.
But DON’T overdo it with fertilizer on your lawns. Fertilizer applied to dormant grass is more likely to run off and pollute our waterways than to feed the turf. Instead try top-dressing with compost in the spring for a glorious lawn.
DO add 2 to 4 inches of mulch to perennial and shrub beds to improve moisture retention and help prevent roots from freezing.
DON’T prune evergreen perennials and shrubs now. Pruning stimulates new growth, which can be damaged if we get a hard freeze.
DO turn OFF your irrigation system now through February. Native and adapted plants need little or no supplemental water during the winter. Also, reducing water use now will save you money on your wastewater bill all year long. Wastewater rates are determined by wintertime water use.
DO remember to water landscape plants before a hard freeze to reduce plant stress.
DON’T use plastic sheeting to wrap plants during a freeze. Instead use cloth sheets or blankets, which do a better job of protecting plants from freezing winds.
DO consider planting a few pots with cold-hardy color such as pansies, snapdragons, stock, calendula and ornamental kale.
DON’T overseed with rye grass. Overseeding stresses lawns, requires lawn maintenance during a season when we could be celebrating the holidays, and uses valuable water resources.
DO plant a tree this winter. Now through February is ideal tree planting season in Central Texas. If you don’t have a spot in your yard, join efforts with a local tree planting group and support shady, green neighborhoods.
Some of the most pleasant outdoor days in Central Texas occur during the winter months. May you find time to spend a few peaceful hours in your garden during this busy holiday season.
Elizabeth Drozda-Freeman is the conservation landscape specialist for the Lower Colorado River Authority. She can be reached at (512) 473-3200, Ext.2230, or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments, questions or suggestions for future gardening topics.