Our Best Winter Gardening Tips for a Beautiful Yard
Living in the Carolinas, we don’t have the luxury of blaming several feet of snow as being the reason why we don't do any yard work in the wintertime. Thanks to our temperate climate, we must maintain our yards even in the dead of winter, or else our landscaping starts to look bleak faster than you can say “Cheerwine!”. Protect your outdoor areas from the cold and the other harsh elements of winter with our list of 10 winter gardening tips for Charlotte, NC and beyond!
1. Winterize Your Outdoor Plants
Protect new plants and vegetation from the unpleasant winter weather and cover them with tarps or sheets made of a breathable material. This will allow them to continue to recycle carbon dioxide while staying protected underneath an added layer of warmth. Using a stake to keep the tarp off of the plants, gently place the tarp over the vegetation to protect them from frost damage — which can ultimately ruin what you worked so hard to plant. You will also want to use this time to move any vulnerable potted plants indoors, as the soil in pots isn’t deep enough to protect the roots from frigid temperatures. Relocate your plants for the time being and continue with their regular winter care. Then move them back outside in the spring once the weather has warmed up.
2. Plant Shrubs and Trees
Although it may seem counterintuitive, winter is actually the best time to plant trees and shrubs. Because you have to trim the roots in order to plant (or relocate) trees and shrubs, it’s best to do this when they are dormant in the winter months. Cutting roots while the plant is still actively growing can damage it and eventually lead to it dying. The perfect window to do this is when the leaves have fallen off and the plant is bare — unless it’s evergreen, of course. The trees or shrubs likely won’t take root until the ground starts to warm back up again, so it’s wise to give your new plant a little help by placing stakes or some other type of support against it as it grows. Related: Does Tree and Shrub Fertilizer Actually Work?
3. Grow a Winter Crop
Instead of fighting the cold weather, embrace it by growing produce that tastes better when exposed to frost. Exposure to frost encourages certain vegetables to produce a form of sugar that toughens the plant against brutal conditions. So, not only do you get a hardier crop, but a sweeter taste! Plant the following frost-friendly vegetables in late fall or early winter depending on your area’s growing season:
4. Get Ahead with an Indoor Garden
If you don’t have a knack for growing fruits and vegetables, take advantage of the many easy-to-care-for indoor plants that are available. If you like vines, ivy and pothos are very hardy indoor plants and can grow almost anywhere. They require a normal amount of light and prefer moist soil. Going too long in between waterings tends to make the leaves crispy, as they tend to shrivel up from lack of moisture. A good drink is usually all that’s needed to plump them back up. For desert-looking plants, try growing succulents and aloe vera. These plants do not like tons of moisture and do best in dry areas of your home, such as bedrooms and living rooms. They also need a lot of bright, indirect light so they do well near a window in your brightest room. On the other hand, snake plants thrive in low-light conditions with a high moisture content, so bathrooms and kitchens are the best spots for them. What’s great about indoor plants is that the outdoor conditions have little effect on their growth, so you can ignore most of the winter gardening tips on this list and still have an amazing indoor garden!
5. Avoid Salt Damage to Grass
When de-icing your sidewalks, be conscious about the type of salt used, how much is distributed, and where. Salt draws moisture from grass and will rob your lawn of the very little water winter provides. As a result, the areas of your lawn that come into contact with excess salt will turn brown and dry, and struggle to regrow. The main ingredient in this type of salt is usually sodium chloride, which is what causes the unsightly damage. Instead, look for a calcium chloride-based product that is less harsh on your grass and still does a good job at melting ice.
6. Add Seasonal Interest
Another way to embrace the changing seasons is by creating an outdoor space that looks beautiful year-round. Fill your garden with plants that specifically bloom in the winter months, such as camellias, hellebores, pansies, violas, or glories of the snow. Shrubs that produce winter berries also add a vibrant pop of color in contrast to the usual greys and browns of winter. Winterberry holly, beautyberry, firethorn, and pyracantha are great options for adding lush berries to your landscape. In addition, you can plant evergreens for year-round greenery that will never lose its leaves or color.
7. Remove Invasive Plants
While most plants are bare and dormant at this time, plan to remove any invasive species that have made their way into your lawn and garden. You’ll want to start off by first identifying which plants are potentially destroying your lawn and landscaping. Then, research the best methods of removal to ensure they’re fully eliminated. Some may require herbicides, others may simply need to be pulled from the ground — roots included.
8. Yard Maintenance
Now is a great time to give your outdoor areas a thorough clean up. This is one of the most overlooked winter gardening tips. Build new garden beds, install a French drain in areas that don’t drain well, tidy up cluttered areas, and put away any gardening and lawn tools. Also repair any damage to your fencing, pathways, decks, and so on while you’re at it. Come spring, your yard will be ready to be used and you can get back to entertaining outdoors! For more winter gardening tips, download our Four Seasons of Lawn Care Guide to see the professional steps we take for a healthy lawn throughout the entire year.
9. Prepare the Soil
Get ahead by prepping your soil for the major growth that will happen in the upcoming months. If you want the best lawn on the block, you have to be smart about how you take care of your soil. A layer of winter mulch will provide your soil with nutrients and temperature protection against the cold. You should also test your soil’s pH and nutrient levels to see what it lacks. Correcting these elements ahead of time will ensure great growing soil for when you do decide to get planting.
10. Target Winter Weeds
Yes, winter weeds are a thing, and they are a pain to deal with! In the Carolinas, poa annua is a tough weed that persists all winter long. Less sun and water in the winter means your grass is competing against weeds for these hard-to-come-by nutrients. To remove weeds, spray them with the correct type of post-emergent or pre-emergent herbicide. Always check the label beforehand and make sure you use the product correctly. You must also avoid mowing immediately before or after applying the herbicide to ensure it works.
Putting These Winter Gardening Tips to Use
Admittedly, achieving a beautiful yard does take a bit of work. Some people enjoy doing yard work, while others feel overwhelmed by it. If you want a little bit of help with your seasonal yard care, we can help! Our lawn care experts work with your current landscaping to cultivate a healthy and vibrant lawn that is difficult to obtain without the proper tools or knowledge. Let the team at Killingworth assist and you can spend more time enjoying the results! You don’t need to be an expert at growing grass, that’s our job! To schedule a lawn care service, or to discuss the lawn-related services we offer, click the button below to get in contact with us.