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Helping Your Landscape Weather Nature

Posted on: August 23rd, 2013

When recommending winter watering, pruning, and fertilization sometimes we hear:

1. The plants are dormant, why do they need care now?

2. See that property over there? They don’t do anything for their landscape and it looks just fine.

3. How do you know what to prune in the winter?

To survive cold temperatures plants lose their leaves and increase sugar content in their branches. Evergreens also harden off for winter, but retain their foliage. While metabolism is reduced, water is still taken up by the roots and expelled in the branches. Essential chemical reactions continue requiring water and nutrient.

We know people who take care of themselves and occasionally still get ill. Conversely, we know people that don’t follow their doctor’s advice living ailment free. For the most part, folks who eat well, get proper rest and exercise, are the healthiest. The same is for the landscape.

Landscapes that receive fall and winter maintenance:

1. Have a longer life span

2. Are less prone to storm damage

3. Are less susceptible to fall and spring freezing temperatures

4. Can better defend themselves from insect and disease pests.

What should you do to help insure your landscape winter’s health?

Winter Watering

Of the activities we can do for our landscape – watering is most important. Winter watering entails bringing the venerable garden hose out every six to eight weeks and attaching either a sprinkler or a soil probe. Sprinkling for 20 – 30 minutes in one location is sufficient. The soil probe method has the advantage of also aerating the soil and watering simultaneously. The probe should be inserted twelve inches into the soil and left there to water for a minute or less. Soil injections may be made every 2 – 3 feet underneath the tree canopy.

Pruning Dead Branches

Dead branches have accumulated from last April’s hard freeze. Not only did the leaves freeze, but on certain trees twigs also froze. The result is many of the branches died or withered this summer. Not only unsightly, dead branches attract decay organisms undermining the tree’s structural integrity. Fall and winter months are excellent times to prune. Insects and diseases aren’t attracted to fresh pruning cuts and dead branches easily identified by a trained arborist.


Fertilization is beneficial for healthy trees and those exhibiting iron deficiencies. Fertilizations take the form of trunk injections for iron deficiency or soil applied nutrients. Fall applications of slow release fertilizers are preferred and are also available to the landscape in the spring of the year.

Watering, pruning, and fertilization are all services you can contract to have done. If your pruning entails a ladder, best to have a professional arborist do the work. Now is a great time to schedule your work.


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