Winter pruning

Is winter pruning a good idea for shrubs and trees? Before you go hacking away at everything in your landscape, do a little research. For some plants, winter is the very best time to prune. 

Winter is when plants go into dormancy, which appears to be death to the unknowing observer. Dormancy is really when plants go to sleep. Plants in dormancy are preparing their insides for freezing weather and lack of water and nutrients. Dormancy is like hibernation for plants. Before deciding on an across the board winter pruning for your plants, keep reading.

What does temperate mean?

In temperate climates like ours, most of our plants go into dormancy. Temperate is a word that is used a lot, but I decided to look it up.  The regions between the middle latitudes of the Earth are considered temperate. That means our temperatures can span greatly throughout the year. We have distinct seasonal changes unlike more tropical areas. In the South, we joke that our four seasons can all appear in one week!

What happens in dormancy?

Plants that are in dormancy may appear to be dead, but they are really just saving energy until the weather is right for them to grow. For some plants, this is the best time to prune. While they are in dormancy they may not have any leaves and it is easy to see their true shape. It is also a good time to prune because when they come out of dormancy, they can focus all of their energy into new growth. 

Are you feeling artsy?

As usual, researching a topic about anything can lead you down a “rabbit hole” of information. When reading about pruning the art form “espalier” caught my eye. For the daring gardener, espalier is an extreme form of pruning which leaves the tree (typically fruit trees) as a two dimensional form. Read more about espalier here, and let us know how it works out for you!

How do I know which plants to prune?

Here are a few suggestions, but it is really worth a few minutes of your time to google specifically the plant or tree. This link to the Farmer’s Almanac has a through listing of many plants and trees and when it is best for you to prune. 

  • If your shrub or tree blooms in the spring, it is best to prune it in the spring right after the blooms fade.
  • If your shrubs are evergreen, prune them in the winter while they are in dormancy.
  • If you are thinking of pruning your trees, it is worth hiring a professional tree trimmer once every three years. Chain saws and ladders are not a good idea for amateurs. 

Plant health care is important to us a Lawn and Pest Solutions. Our trained and licensed lawn technicians are always willing to listen to your concerns and advise you on ways to improve your landscape. Contact our office here and let us schedule a visit! We serve the Mississippi and Tennessee areas with lawn and pest control.

Is now the time to mulch my flower beds?

If you have too much time on your hands and your yard is looking a little too wintery, you may be wondering if now is the time to mulch your flower beds? The answer is yes! To be honest, you can mulch your flower beds all year round, according to many, now is a really good time to mulch.

What is mulch?

Though mulch is a rather odd sounding word, it is simply material used to cover the surface of soil. Mulch can be organic or inorganic, and as discussed in this article from Mississippi State Extension, “Nature’s Mulch”. Whatever you decide to use, it should be porous enough to let air and water through, but dense enough to keep weeds out.

Organic mulch such as shredded wood products, compost from leaves, pine needles and grass clippings will eventually deteriorate but they also add nutrients to your soil. Organic mulches need to be reapplied yearly to maintain the health of your plants. Inorganic mulch includes rocks and recycled rubber products. These types of mulch don’t have to be replaced every year but they also don’t add any nutrients to your flower beds.

Why mulch now?

 Many people prefer the cold climate for mulching, ideally before a deep freeze. Mulching at this time of year helps prevent from winter burns and from frost heaving ( Definition: the uplift of soil or other surface deposits due to expansion of groundwater on freezing.)

Why mulch at all?

Mulching is inexpensive, it is easy and it doesn’t take long to do. This video shows great tips on the mulching experience. 

Other benefits of mulch include:

Reduces evaporation of moisture

Moderates the temperature of soil

Helps control weeds

Adds beauty to landscape

Protects shrubs and trees

Tips for mulching:

Apply mulch 2-4 inches thick, this may seem like a lot, but remember it will settle into the ground over time

Remove weeds before mulching 

Don’t make “mulch volcanoes” around trees

At this time of year, there aren’t many things a homeowner can do around the yard. As always, we like to remind our customers that having a beautiful and healthy lawn is a year round job. Your landscape is an investment and it adds to the value of your property. A simple task like mulching is something that will pay off for the rest of the year. If you have questions about mulching or any other concerns with lawn care, give us at call at Lawn and Pest Solutions. Our licensed lawn technicians serve Tennessee and Mississippi and would love to help you with the beautification of your lawn.