Paris and Henry County's Oldest Landscape Design/Build & Maintenance Company
There's not a lot going on in the Landscape this time of year. Just a few things to think about. Try to keep any tender plants from freezing during periods of long hard freezes if you're in the Transition zone.
Here in Northwest Tennessee, we can have some plants that are bordering on being too far north. They will grow alright here as long as we protect them in the winter from any hard freezes where it gets down to 20 or below for a day or two. If it gets colder than this or stays that cold for very long your marginal plants will most likely be killed.
To protect these plants cover them with plastic, straw, or any material to keep the wind from blowing constantly on them, and anything that you can put on top of perennials and bulbs and such for insulation will help also. We use everything from mulch to actual insulation, straw and anything we can find.
If you have something like Banana trees or something in a pot you can put them in the basement, under the house or anywhere to keep them out of the severe weather. Sometimes it doesn't take too much to save a plant from freezing death and you have it to use again next year.
Time to start looking at plants that you think you might be wanting for this year. Before you know it Feb and Mar will be here and its time to start planting new plants, soon to be followed by annuals and perennials. Start looking at those seed catalogs now!
If you live in an area with predominant high winds, your landscape plants could benefit from an application of an anti-desiccant spray. This is a protective coating that will protect the plant from losing too much moisture due to the wind blowing on the plants all the time.
Dormant oils can also be applied this time of year. Dormant oils are a softer approach to insect control. A dormant oil is a product that will coat certain insects and smother them. Euonymas scale is one such insect. They have a hard coating on them similar to a turtle shell. The scale is a very small white powdery looking critter. If you lift up the leafs of euonymas and look on the bottom, you may see hundreds of them so thick that all you see is a white flaky powder. Spraying regular insecticide on them through the year isn't very effective since the coating they have protects them, so a dormant oil applied when the shrubs are "dormant" it will smother the insect without killing the plant.
Your landscape beds can always use a little attention. If your temperatures are not too terribly low, you can go out and do a little selective pruning to remove any dead wood, prune out any rubbing branches, cut back ornamental grasses, if you're ready to.
Landscape bed pre-emergent herbicides granules can be put down now also. Or you can use the same type of pre-emergent herbicide in a liquid form, and just spray it over the whole bed, without hurting the plants. These will keep lots of different weed types from germinating. The pre-emergent will not kill an existing weed, but prevents the seed from coming up. You will still have to weed out those weeds that are standing up now.
If that weed isn't too close to some of your shrubs or flowers, you can spray them with RoundUp or a similar non-selective weed killer. Just be careful to not spray it on the leaves of what you DON'T want to kill.
Mulching and Pruning
If your shrubs have gotten too large over the last few years and are taking over the neighborhood, you can cut them back hard in the Winter, January is a great time to cut anything back hard.
If you have to, you can cut shrubs back all the way to sticks and most will still recover and come back out in the Spring. We don't necessarily recommend cutting back this hard, but sometimes you have a plant that is either going to have to be cut back hard, or pulled up. In this case cutting back is a good choice.
We find that most homeowners don't prune correctly or cut enough material off, this lets the plants get larger and larger each year. So occasionally, you have to give them a hard cut back pruning.
Mulching can be done in the Winter if you like. Most people wait until Spring when the new season is starting so the mulch will look nice and fresh for the Spring and going into Summer.
Technically, the mulch is better for the plants during the Winter because it helps insulate the plants during the cold weather. But visually, it doesn't help much since there is all the snow, tree litter and debris to deal with.