BY KAREN LIBIN, KL REALTY
You may want to take a break from football, hiking and biking, and spend part of these beautiful fall days raking leaves and getting your yard ready for the upcoming winter. Whether you’re planning on selling your home in the near or far future, you want to maintain your landscaping for its investment value as well as for personal enjoyment. Our Colorado winters with their extreme temperature fluctuations, irregular precipitation and high winds are especially tough on plants. A general fall clean up along with a few simple tasks can help your landscaping remain healthy, as well as make spring chores lighter.
• Remove all diseased and dead foliage that may harbor insects and their eggs.
• In all beds and around trees, remove moldy or diseased mulch and replace with fresh. Or, if needed add more to create an even coverage of three to four inches to protect plants from winter temperature and precipitation fluctuations.
• If you’re ambitious, before applying mulch, turn the dirt over around plants in perennial beds and incorporate compost or non-diseased leaves.
• For pots with annuals, empty after the first freeze and store containers overturned to avoid cracking.
• Place pots with perennials in a shady area and mulch to avoid drying out. Remember to water occasionally throughout the winter.
• Remove seeds from favorite plants to use next spring.
• After the first freeze, remove from garden beds unless they are varieties that typically winter over, such as snap dragons and dianthus.
• Lift tender bulbs such as gladiolas or dahlias for indoor winter storage. (If they are planted on the south side next to a stone/brick fence/wall, they may survive through the winter.)
• Divide spring and summer blooming plants, especially those prone to multiplying to an unhealthy degree, such as iris.
• After the first freeze, remove foliage if desired. Some gardeners prefer to remove all dead foliage and start spring with a fresh, clean slate. Other gardeners like the structure and look of the dead foliage, especially the way snow collects on it, and prefer to do clean up in the spring.
• For columnar evergreens which tend to splay during a heavy snow (especially young ones), you can push their branches up and tie them horizontally with thick twine every foot and a half of height. Or, you can spiral coated wire through them to achieve similar support.
• Roses need more mulch than other bushes or during the winter they may experience sever die-back or simply die. Research what’s needed for your type of rose, but in general a good six to ten-inch mound of mulch is good.
• Broadleaf evergreens, such as boxwood, are prone to wind burn especially if they are on the east side of the house. After the first freeze you can apply a coating product, such as Wilt-Pruf™, to protect them.
• Wrap young trees’ trunks in wire or commercial tree guards to protect against chewing and rubbing critters.
• Remove partially broken branches. When snowed upon, the weight will cause them to fall and damage healthy branches.
• Protect wind-sensitive trees such as Japanese maples by setting up burlap screens or burlap boxes as well as applying additional mulch.