In February, the green of summer can feel impossibly far away—sipping cocoa by the fire is more on the mind than preparing the yard for next season. But there’s no need to wait ‘til spring to lay the groundwork for a fantastic summer landscape! Here are some practical wintertime land care tips to get you started…
#1 DO tend to outdoor plants
By midwinter, you have probably already taken particularly cold-adverse plants indoors, but it’s important to note that your bushes and trees might need a little extra attention (read: careful; covering and fortification) in the worst cold snaps. How do you know which plants are in danger? We are always here to help you with a personalized land care rundown. You can also educate yourself by paying attention when you install young plants; the tag usually includes information about the plant’s “hardiness,” a.k.a. how much cold it can tolerate before risking damage or death. The hardiness is categorized by geographical “Zone”. The lower the zone number, the colder the plant can tolerate. For example, if you have a variety of lavender that is “Hardy to Zone 6”, that means it will be able to survive winters in Zone 6 and higher, but will not survive in Zones 1-5. Much of Massachusetts and Connecticut are on the border of Zones 5 and 6. This means that your Hardy-to-Zone-6 lavender, for example, will likely need some extra TLC if you want it to come back as a perennial. This map from the USDA gives you a sense of what Zone you are in. If you need more guidance, we’re more than happy to help.
#2 DON’T plow or shovel your lawn
Not only can plowing distribute rocks and refuse that you’ll need to remove later, it can also rip up grass and other plants. On warmer days, a plow or a car accidentally driving on the lawn can make huge ruts that are a nightmare to fix later—sometimes requiring not only flattening, but re-seeding in the spring. You can save a lot of hassle by delineating the edges of your driveway, and taking care to avoid driving, shoveling or plowing outside the designated parking areas. Which brings us to our next tip…
#3 DO mark the edges of your driveway
If you do only one thing from this list, make it this! Whether you chose to use reflective driveway markers from your local hardware store or improvise with wooden stakes from the vegetable garden is up to you (a pro of driveway markers is that they won’t leave big holes in your lawn). Marking where your driveway ends and your lawn begins will save you a lot of work come springtime. This is especially true if your driveway is made of gravel, as snow plows have a tendency to spread loose rocks far and wide.
While it’s easiest to mark out your driveway before the first snowfall, it’s never too late. You can do it during any burst of warm weather, when the ground thaws enough to place the markers. And if a thaw isn’t on the horizon, you can use a drill with a masonry bit to prep the holes in the ground before placing them.
#4 DON’T use too much salt
We know it can get icy out there but salt isn’t always the answer! It can damage the environment, your pet’s paws, and your lawn. Maybe you’re familair with that tale of the Ancient Romans salting the fields of their enemies to ensure famine—you don’t want your yard and garden to meet a similar fate! Luckily, there is a safer alternative. Sand provides traction on slippery spots and has the added bonus of potentially saving you money, as local municipalities often will offer sand for free to local residents! Check your town’s website or the local highway department to see if this is something they offer.
#5 DO plan your garden early
Spring will be here before you know it. Be prepared to plant early by planning your garden now. Consider including native plants and plants pollinators love, which contribute to the long-term health of the local ecosystem. And why not eat super-local this year with veggies grown in your own backyard raised beds? The possibilities are endless!
Contact us here at Nature Works if you have any questions, or would like to hire a professional to guide you through the planning process. We’re always happy to help.