With the weather plunging into the teens in the past week in South Carolina, it can seem hard to find tasks to work on in your garden. Although the winter months are definitely less intense than other seasons, Horticulture Supervisor Brendan Huggins reminds us that there are always things to be doing in a garden.
–“On a day like today when a home gardener may be forced inside due to the temperature; they can check on their equipment,” Brendan recommends. Things on his list to check—do pruners need to be sharpened? Do shovels need to be cleaned, sterilized, or sharpened?
“If they have any mechanical equipment they can replace spark plugs, change the oil, and sharpen mower blades – or bring it in to a small engine repair shop to ensure it will be running well when they need it,” he continues.
–Several horticulturists also advise to prune trees and shrubs during dormancy. It creates the least amount of shock, which makes it an ideal time to prune. “Deciduous tree structure is very apparent in the winter, so you can prune for the structure and shape you desire,” says Katie Dickson, Senior Horticulturist at MFBG.
–Grasses can be left up to provide some winter interest, but they should be cut back around early February before new growth comes in. “It’s really important not to cut back any new growth,” Brendan explains.
–When mid-February comes around, roses should be analyzed for corrective pruning needs. Katie offers an easy way to remember rose pruning. “Valentine’s Day is for giving people roses and also for pruning them,” she laughs.
–Another one of Brendan’s tips is to analyze your garden. “You can make a map of your garden to help plan where new plants can go,” he says. “A map will help you determine what worked well and what under performed during the previous growing seasons.”
Gardeners can utilize maps to identify areas where colors may not have meshed well. It can also help you figure out if you want to change the size or shape of any of your garden beds and how that will look.
–Sourcing is a great indoor activity for days when it’s too cold to be outside. “Winter is a great time to research plants,” Brendan says. “We all get carried away when we enter a nursery on the first nice spring day and want to buy everything in bloom. If you already know what plants you want to purchase before you walk in it can help prevent excess spending,” he finished.
–Horticulturist Robby Davidson suggests collecting supplies in order to prepare for germinating seeds. “About 8 weeks prior to the last frost is the best time to start plants,” Robby says.
–Research Horticulturist Kirk Laminack says to remember to adjust irrigation schedules and timings for both winter and summer. “It’s easy to just set and forget the irrigation controller, but it should be reassessed and adjusted every so often,” Kirk explains.
–Kirk also suggests working on hardscapes like pathways, pergolas, trellises, and patios. While it might be difficult to do with frozen ground, take advantage of the varying weather in the south and pick a day to get some of these bigger structural projects finished.
–Finally, enjoy the winter interests in your garden. “There are so many gorgeous areas of the garden, no matter if it’s cold outside,” says Events and Marketing Coordinator Roberta Burns. “Bundle up and get out to enjoy bright berries and bark that shine during the winter!”