Sept. 19, 2023

Winter Prep for the Landscape

Winter and colder temperatures are just around the corner. Our landscapes will start going into dormancy soon, but that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook when it comes to maintenance. To keep your landscape healthy and thriving for next spring, consider taking the following steps throughout the coming months.

Use Your Fall Leaves

Leave a thin layer of leaves on your grass and then run the lawn mower over it twice to mulch. The leaves will decompose slowly, adding important nutrients to the ground which will make your grass healthier.  

Dry leaves make an ideal mulch for your vegetable garden. If you’re growing a fall crop, spread your leaves carefully so as not to cover seedlings. If you’re putting your garden to bed for the winter, cover with 6 inches of leaves; they’ll compress over the winter months. In a windy area, cover the leaves with a layer of cardboard and a few bricks to prevent the leaves from blowing away. 

wrapping a tree for the winter with brown covering
Wrap Tree Trunks 

With Colorado’s dramatic winter temperature fluctuations, young trees are more susceptible to sun scald and frost cracks that can be fatal or significantly reduce the tree’s life span. To prevent winter bark damage, wrap the trunks of young trees (if the bark is still smooth without furls or ridges) using commercial tree wrap starting around the first frost of the year. Be sure to remove it in mid-April as trees do not do well when wrapped year-round. Here is a helpful tree-wrapping how-to video from CSU Extension.  

Mulch Around Base 

Apply 2 to 4 inches of wood mulch at the base of the tree, making sure the mulch does not make contact with the trunk. The mulch will help to insulate the tree roots from extreme temperatures and reduce soil evaporation while ensuring that the wet mulch isn’t holding moisture directly against the trunk.  

Winter Watering 

Colorado’s fall season can be dry, so it is extremely important to water trees. Soil moisture is insulating for the plant's roots and supports its ability to survive cold snaps. Aim to water trees and shrubs once per month from October through March if there hasn’t been approximately an inch of natural precipitation. Daytime temperatures need to be above 40 degrees and apply water mid-day, so it percolates into the soil before cold night temperatures. Water the area using a hose end sprinkler, extending from the base of the tree to the edge of the longest branches in the tree canopy. Move the sprinkler to different locations under the tree canopy until the area has been well watered (but not oversaturated). Utilize the cycle and soak method to encourage deep watering without runoff.

Tree Pruning 

Winter is the ideal time to prune most trees. The spread of disease is less likely when trees are dormant, and lack of foliage makes it easier to see which limbs need attention. A properly trimmed tree will fare better when heavy spring snowfalls weigh heavily on branches. We recommend contacting a certified arborist for your tree pruning needs!