Weatherford Democrat

November 17, 2013

ASK A MASTER GARDENER: Preparing your landscape for winter


Weatherford Democrat

Here is this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to pcmgaquestions@gmail.com. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.

How do I prepare my landscape for winter?

Before the weather gets any colder, make plans to winterize your lawn and garden. Nothing is more aggravating than walking outside to a winter wonderland of frozen plants because you forgot to turn off your irrigation system. That doesn’t compare to the mess a frozen and burst pipe can cause. Disconnect your water hoses from outside hydrants and put them away. Attach insulated covers on all of your exterior hydrants and faucets. If you have not purchased covers, old towels can be wrapped and attached with rubber bands or waterproof tape.

As the leaves fall, mulch them with the mower and allow them to deteriorate naturally into the grass. Leaves not mulched will mat together, harbor fungus, and create problems for the lawn. Young trees may profit from being staked to help them prepare for our strong winter winds. Mulch is your best protection for plants of every variety as it insulates the soil, retains moisture, and helps them to survive winter.

Many tender perennials will not withstand freezing temperatures and must be protected in a greenhouse, garden room or other area that is warm and has good light. While garages are convenient, they may also be cold and dark. Opening the garage door on sunny days will be a great benefit to the plants stored there.

Though not every plant can be saved, it is important to provide protection for the ones that have a special meaning to us and our landscape. When spring arrives, it will make gardening much more enjoyable.

How should I prune forsythia?

You should remove any dead branches; but generally, it should never be pruned. When left unpruned, forsythia develops a beautiful fountain shape with cascading branches covered in blooms each spring. If you must prune, do so in March after it blooms. Prune by cutting the largest branches clear to the ground, removing no more than one third of the branches.

Should I prune my Texas sage?

Texas sage, like most evergreen shrubs, should be left to develop its natural form. It can be pruned if needed to clean up unsightly growth. While this can be done anytime, pruning is best done in early February before it starts new growth.