Now that winter and the holiday season is nearly upon the Chicago area, there are some things to take care of on your property before you are unable to do so. Winter preparation is all about cleaning the yard and conserving moisture on your landscape.
If you can, give your plants one last good soaking at the root system to hold their energy reserves through winter. This is especially helpful if we experience another “polar vortex.” Root feeding (fertilization) treatments can also be helpful if you have problems with weak or slow growing ornamental plant material.
Treating your evergreens with an anti-desiccant helps them to conserve moisture. This type of treatment protects your susceptible evergreens from damaging wind burn and is performed twice during the winter months. The other option would be wrapping your evergreens in burlap for wind protection until early spring.
Snow cover, while good for turf, is not a good thing in excess for trees and shrubs. Too much snow can lead to sagging or breaking limbs, especially if freezing rain or ice is part of the weather mix. Some taller shrubs like arbor vitae, don’t have much center support, so bracing or tying them off to a stationary object is a good idea.
Finally, if you have any leaf litter remaining on the lawn, rake it up. This is especially important with fruit bearing trees as diseases can be recycled back into the tree from infected leaves.
When it comes to the lawn, it should be cleared of debris and mowed short for the winter, usually at about 2 inches. This shorter mow height will help minimize lawn fungus issues like snow mold. It may also help minimize the appearance of damage from animals like voles or field mice.
Snow cover acts like a blanket, keeping the lawn insulated from drying winds and freezing temperatures. When that protection is gone, the lawn can dry out very fast. The good news is, grass plants are very resilient and will recover in the spring when conditions for growth improve. If you plan on seeding in the spring, notify your lawn care company so there is no use of crabgrass pre-emergent, as this will keep your grass seed from germinating. Better success with seeding is found during the early fall months of late August through early October.
One last area of concern would be leaf removal from your gutters. This will help prevent ice damming and costly roof damage.