• Set up bird feeders. Birds appreciate a source of unfrozen drinking water during the winter. Use one of the many styles of bird bath heaters or heated birdbaths we have available at Hillermann’s.
• Spring bulbs can still be planted until the ground freezes (generally late December through January).
• Winter houseplant basics: reduce or eliminate fertilizer until spring, shorter days means slower growth, slower growth means less frequent watering, plants in plastic pots need less water than those in clay pots, plants in cooler rooms need less water and will have slower growth than those in warm rooms. Additional humidity is always an added plus.
• After the first hard frost, mulch roses heavily to a depth of 12” to properly cover the plant graph area using bark, compost or straw and rose collars. Prune back longer canes to 24” to prevent whipping in the winter.
• If it is a dry fall, be sure to water perennial beds, shrubs and trees. One of the biggest reasons plants do not survive the winter is from being too dry!
• Keep leaves raked up off of the lawn to prevent injury to turf grasses.
• Continue mowing lawn grasses as long as they keep growing.
• Apply Winterizer fertilizer to lawns to strengthen plant stems and roots for winter growth.
• Be sure to shut off and drain any outdoor water pipes or irrigation systems that may freeze during cold weather.
• Roll up and store garden hoses on a warm, sunny day. It’s hard to get a cold hose to coil into a tight loop.
• Clean house gutters of leaves and fallen debris before cold, wet weather sets in.
• Covering garden ponds with bird netting or erosion netting will prevent leaves from fouling the water. Oxygen depletion from rotting organic matter can cause winter kill of pond fish.
• Take steps to prevent garden ponds from freezing solid in winter. Covering ponds with an insulating material, or floating a water garden heater in the pond, will lessen the chance of ice damage.
• Now is a good time to collect soil samples to test for pH and nutritional levels. Hillermann’s can test pH levels for FREE if you bring in 6 cups of dry soil.
• Any unused, finished compost is best tilled under to improve garden soils.
• Apply gypsum at a rate of 40 lbs per 500 sq. ft. to flower beds that have heavy clay soil.
TREES & SHRUBS
• Harvest pecans when they start to drop from trees. Shake nuts onto tarps laid on the ground for easy gathering.
• Keep mulches pulled back several inches from the base of fruit trees to prevent bark injury from hungry mice and other rodents.
• Commercial tree guards or protective collars made of 24 inch high hardware cloth will prevent trunk injury to fruit trees from gnawing rabbits and other rodents.
• Fall tilling the vegetable garden exposes many insect pests to winter cold, reducing their numbers in next year’s garden.
• Overcrowded or unproductive rhubarb plants can be divided now.
• Mulch strawberries for winter with straw. This should be done after several nights of 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but before temperatures drop into the teens. Apply straw loosely, but thick enough to hide plants from view.
• Fallen, spoiled or mummified fruits should be cleaned up from the garden and destroyed by burying.