GIMME SHELTER- Winter woes: Keep garden healthy when it's cold

Corbin Snow
Snow's Garden Center


Q:  I'm concerned about how my garden will fare during the cold winter months. What can I do to take care of my trees, plants, and shrubs this winter? 

A: Maintenance is key at this time of the year, and it's important to remember that while plants may lie dormant, they still need care and watering.

It's time to start cutting your perennial plants, and most importantly, time to do a post-fall clean up by removing any leaves in your yard or garden. The longer leaves sit in the garden and at the base of trees and shrubs, the longer they have to decompose and rot, which can lead to major plant problems.

To keep evergreen plants and trees healthy and evergreen, a product called Wilt-Away is a must. Made from a pine extract, it gives evergreen leaves a waxy film coating that traps in moisture and prevents foliar moisture loss. 

Perhaps the most commonly overlooked aspect of caring for your garden is fertilizing. While shrubs are getting ready to go dormant in the winter, their root systems remain active, and it's important to nourish them. If fertilized properly, plants' roots will be healthy going into the spring and summer months, which means healthier and better-looking plants. 

Many people lament over their brown and lifeless plants when winter ends, thinking that their once-beautiful flowers and shrubs are dead. But think again, because this is just a post-winter syndrome, a typical result of months of cold temperatures and inclement weather. Generally, the core of the plant, shrub, or tree is fine, and all it needs is a little care and nourishment to get it back to its pre-winter self. 

So have no fear, because with a little raking, fertilizing, and watering, your plants will be as beautiful and healthy as ever when springtime comes.

[Editor's note: Snow's company just won Total Landscape Care magazine's award as the 2008 Landscaper of the Year.]