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Old 11-27-2015, 09:58 AM   #1
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What can be done in winter?


We have just moved into a new place after a few years an I'm itching to get back into yard work type stuff, but I live in central Wisconsin. Is there anything that can be done in the Winter time to start prepping for Spring already?

Thanks
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Old 11-27-2015, 12:02 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hankejp View Post
We have just moved into a new place after a few years an I'm itching to get back into yard work type stuff, but I live in central Wisconsin. Is there anything that can be done in the Winter time to start prepping for Spring already?

Thanks
I once read that shrubs, trees etc. that need pruning, it was recommended to prune / shape about 6 months prior to blooming. According to that this would be a good time to prune March, April and May bloomers.
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Old 11-27-2015, 12:13 PM   #3
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you can also do a dormant seeding this time of year...it will get the grass off to a quick start in the spring..
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Old 11-27-2015, 03:58 PM   #4
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Some hardwood trees are best prune in the dead of winter . What kind (if any) do you have ?
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Old 11-27-2015, 08:48 PM   #5
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Evergreen trees have a natural defense against both bugs and weeds. If you ever look under an evergreen tree (and that includes fir, spruce and pine), you'll find that only the very hardiest of weeds will grow in that soil. The reason for that is that as the tree grows, it's lower branches loose their needles, and the rotting needles turn the ground acidic so that bugs and plants don't want to live in that soil.

In spring, you may find various kinds of bugs (including ants and sow bugs) growing in the ground around your house. A safe, cheap and effective way to get rid of those bugs is to spread a bed of evergreen tree needles onto the ground in that area. So, find out now where people in your area discard their Christmas trees and put the car carriers on your car so that you can liberate as many of them as you can. You want to put those trees in an area where nothing grows anyhow under an evergreen tree, or in your garage if storing them outside isn't feasible, and by mid summer the trees will have dried up sufficiently that even a little shaking will cause their needles to fall off, thereby allowing you to separate the needles from the tinsel and small twigs easily. Then, cut up the trunks and take them and the branches to your local landfill. (Or you can take that scrap wood to your local camp site or park bar-b-que pit and you won't have any problem giving that wood away.)

Here in Manitoba, the Forestry department spreads evergreen tree needles on the walking paths through the Provincial Parks to save from having to spray those paths with herbicides to kill the weeds. That practice saves money and is a good way to use all those needles.
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Old 11-27-2015, 09:05 PM   #6
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PS: Trees store nutrients in their roots during the winter. Those nutrients are used for the burst of growth that happens every spring. Pruning during the winter results in the branches that are still on the tree in spring receiving more nutrients, and hence, growing more and faster. This is only one of the reasons to prune in the winter rather than any other season.
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Old 11-27-2015, 10:59 PM   #7
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+1 on dormant seeding. A light overseeding is a good idea even if your lawn looks good. Go heavier with the seed if you know the lawn is pretty thin.

If you like to garden, now is a good time to plant some garlic. It will overwinter and be ready in early summer. Ditto with any spring bulbs. Winter is a good time to plan your garden and plantings.

Clean your gutters.

It's a good time to do seasonal maintenance on your lawnmowers and such before you put them away for the winter. Check them over, sharpen blades, change oil, etc. They'll be ready to go when spring rolls around.
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:41 PM   #8
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People will often be wary of trees on their lawns because they're concerned that the trees roots will clog up their sewer lines. That's because people don't see a tree's root system but imagine it to be a mirror image of the tree's branch system. In this case, ignorance is fertile ground for the imagination to run wild. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, almost all of a tree's root system is in the top three feet of soil. And, that's true regardless of how large the tree is.

The reason for this is that a tree root's job isn't just to collect water. It's also to absorb nutrients that the tree needs to grow, like phosphates and nitrates. Those nutrients are the result of "aerobic decay of organic matter", also called "composting".

When grass blades, leaves and small branches collect on the ground, they decay and produce a fertilizer rich in nutrients. That composting can only happen in the presence of oxygen. Anything deeper than 3 feet beneath the surface and there simply isn't enough oxygen in the ground for aerobic decay to happen. So, even the biggest trees (like the giant Sequoia Douglas Fir trees in California) have a root system that's almost entirely included in the top three feet of soil. With huge trees like that, the areal extent of the root system is huge, but it's all in the top three feet of soil because that's where all the desirable nutrients are.

When a tree's root does clog up a sewer pipe, it's because there was a leak in that pipe and the tree senses the moisture and nutrients in the soil deeper down. So, the roots grow toward that source, and often into the leak. As the root grows, it assumes the same shape of the hole it's growing into, thereby plugging that leak up. When the tree roots are cut by a plumber's snake, the root stops growing where it has been cut, and that means the leak is plugged by the end of that root; probably permanently. Generally, the problem doesn't return because it's normal for roots to stop growing if they're cut, by a farmer's plow share, for example. New roots will grow, which is why you can transplant fully grown trees, but the root that has been cut doesn't grow once the cut has healed.

So, don't suspect the tree in your yard is going to feed on your sewer line, because in most cases it doesn't happen. If it did, then all of the trees in every major city would cause no end of problems with the house drain lines clogging up. That's because a house's sewer line is typically a good 7 or 8 feet below the ground, which is far beneath the depth that you find tree roots in.

There are such things as tap roots with do grow downward to 7 or 8 feet below the ground, but they grow directly beneath the tree's trunk. Unless your sewer line goes directly below the tree's trunk too, there's no reason to believe that your tree is going to cause any plumbing problems.
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Old 11-29-2015, 09:01 AM   #9
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You need to be careful with pruning. Flowering shrubs like azaleas put out buds for the next season's flowers soon after the flowers drop. If you actually want to have flowers, you need to trim these shortly after the flowers drop in the spring.

Pruning trees too early in winter can cause water to get into the ends of the cuts, causing them to freeze and split, which may injure the tree. Prune in late winter, well before growth starts but after the worst of the winter cold.

If the ground is still workable, it's not a bad time to cut in and till any gardens that you might like to have in the spring.
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Old 12-09-2015, 09:09 PM   #10
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It's a good time to read gardening books and magazines to get ideas on what you might want to do with your yard in the spring. Some libraries have back issues of magazines (like Birds & Blooms) that you can check out.
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Old 12-10-2015, 07:05 AM   #11
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Every yard is different, and I imagine that there are some with limited winter care activities. We have a lot of trees, including a moderately dense wooded area in the back, so one thing that we do during winter months is look for poison ivy, etc. and dead or decaying branches. The poison ivy doesn't go dormant, so can still get you, but I would rather deal with it in a pair of overalls, coat, and gloves, than in summer attire, and it's easier to spot and remove it or the dead branches I mentioned with the leaves out of the way. Otherwise, oil gets changed, mower blades, loppers, pruners, etc. are sharpened, and things like that, so that the mower, tiller, and yard tools are ready to go in the spring. As far as dormant seeding, I have had decent results, but am reluctant due to not knowing what's coming. I'm not an expert so don't know, but, for example, the past two winters the ground was frozen, and I think we probably had at least a foot of snow on the ground by Christmas. Okay, fine. But this winter, here in south central MI, it may hit 60 this week. So does that mean the grass might start popping now, and be exposed to whatever January has in store. I don't know, but seems like it could be a pretty good size gamble some years.
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Old 12-15-2015, 06:02 AM   #12
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Winter Lawn Care


Most people spend less time on lawn care and grass maintenance during the winter than they do during any other season. Once youíve put the lawn mower away, most likely youíre ready to relax until the spring. Tending to your lawn periodically in winter ensures that itíll be in top condition when spring comes around again.
1. Fertilizing
2. Mowing
3. Cleaning
4. Minimize foot traffic
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Old 12-29-2015, 02:46 PM   #13
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I usually agree with Nestor's comments on most topics; however, regarding the pine needles acidifying the soil and preventing weeds, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. I don't feel it's necessary to get into a long-winded debate about the science of it all because there is plenty of information that one can find online and use to draw their own conclusions. But basically, pine needles decomposing on the ground do not significantly lower the pH, if at all. Certainly not enough that it would be inhospitable for weeds to grow. If anything, it is the mulching effect of the pine needles that build up and smother the weeds. As for harvesting needles from old Christmas Trees and using that as a pesticide/herbicide, I don't see a problem with that but I would hesitate to say that it's the acidity of the pine needs that deter pests. It's more likely the synthetic pesticides that the Christmas Tree farmers sprayed onto them while they were growing. But if not, then I again would be more inclined to say that any deterring effect that they do have has nothing to do with the pH of the pine needle itself. Particularly if the needles are brown and dead.

I am always open to learning new things and I am always willing to admit I am wrong when presented with a compelling argument, so I encourage any naysayers to take the opportunity to enlighten me as to why my understanding of pine needles, soil pH, and the interaction between the two is incorrect.

On a side note: I think most plants actually prefer a slightly acidic soil (this would include 'weeds' as well) Also, rainwater is quite acidic if I recall, at about 5.5. And we've all seen the wondrous effect that a good rain will have on the garden...

Just food for thought. Advocating on the Devil's behalf

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Old 12-29-2015, 04:59 PM   #14
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JustScrewIt:

Heck I don't know that the decomposing coniferous tree needles actually make the ground ACIDIC. To me, that wasn't really the point.

The needles from coniferous trees do something to the ground that prevents anything other than the hardiest of weeds to grow. That was the principle point.

And, if that ground is inhospitable to most plants, then it stands to reason that it may very well also be inhospitable to bugs that normally live in the ground as well. In my case, I used coniferous tree needles to get rid of sow bugs that were numerous outside one of my basement apartments. After spreading coniferous tree needles on that ground, the sow bug problem disappeared. I attribute that to whatever it is that coniferous tree needles do to the ground that prevents anything but the hardiest of weeds to grow.

It was these points that I felt were more important. Whether coniferous tree needles accomplish that by making the ground acidic or by some other means, I don't know. I do know that my observations are that little if anything will grow directly under a coniferous tree, and those things that do grow are the hardiest of weeds that will grow in the most inhospitable places.
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Old 12-30-2015, 04:29 AM   #15
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do not forget to take care on grass maintenance
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