Northern Colorado’s winter weather is rarely predictable. From warm sunshine, to frequent snow storms and freezes, the temperatures and the weather conditions in our area present unusual gardening challenges. In order to stay ahead of these challenges, flexibility is the key. Use the following tips to help guide your gardening decisions during the months of November and December and be prepared to adjust for immediate weather conditions while preparing ahead for several weeks of extreme cold.
GENERAL GARDEN CARE
- Clean, drain and cover fountains.
- Drain and disconnect garden hoses. Store indoors or cover to prevent weather damage.
- Clear out and shut down sprinkler systems.
- Keep birdbaths and birdfeeders full and fresh.
- Winter water trees, shrubs and newly planted perennials when necessary.
TREES & SHRUBS
- Wrap the trunks of newly planted or cold-sensitive trees, such as Japanese Maple, with tree wrap.
- Prevent disease and insects from overwintering below your trees and shrubs by removing the leaves and debris from the prior season. Replace with fresh mulch to help prevent moisture evaporation and to provide much needed winter insulation.
- Avoid pruning shrubs. Pruning will encourage tender new growth which will easily damage in freezing temperatures. Leaving the seeds and berries on many shrubs will also provide an important source of winter food for wildlife.
- Remember to winter water as necessary.
- Avoid cutting back perennials after freezing temperatures begin to set in.
- Protect cold sensitive perennials with 2-3” of mulch around the base of the plant.
- Winter water any newly planted perennials as needed.
HERBS & VEGETABLES
- Some herbs respond well to overwintering indoors. The best herbs for this include thyme, rosemary and lavender. Place in a south facing window, allow to dry between waterings and trim leaves and branches throughout the season.
- Make note of which vegetables worked for you this year. Keep track of your garden notes in a journal for easy reference in the spring.
- Watch for disease or insects on houseplants. Promptly treat any infected plants to prevent spreading to other indoor plants.
- Be careful not to overwater houseplants during the winter. Cooler temperatures may slow plant growth reducing the need for water.
- Move particularly sensitive houseplants, such as ficus, away from drafty doors or windows.
- Avoid costly repairs - make sure your sprinkler system is professionally drained and turned off for the season.
- Discontinue fertilizing or spraying your lawn throughout the winter.
- Whenever possible, avoid walking on frost covered turf. Heavy foot traffic can damage grass while creating an uneven surface in the soil.
CULTIVATE SOME FUN!
- Provide a much needed source of food for the birds in your yard by making your own suet!
- Use the winter months as an opportunity to start a garden journal. Sketch in ideas and make notes for next year's projects.