Can you hear our teeth chattering? Texas has packed a punch this year, but it’s not done yet. As we gear up for a colder-than-usual winter with some frosty storms on the horizon, it’s time to give your little piece of Texas some VIP treatment. We’ve got a flurry of tips and recommendations to easily transform your green space into a winter wonderland.
Tundra Turf Tactics
Prepping Texas grass before freezing conditions is vital for a green spring. While your dormant turf isn’t going to be actively growing during the cold season, you’ll still encounter challenges like weeds and providing enough nutrients.
Adjust soil pH: for thriving grass and healthy dormancy, use a 3-1-2 rate of nitrogen, phosphorus, & potassium.
Reduce watering: in the absence of rain, water your turf half an inch once a week. Avoid watering the day before a freeze to reduce the risk of damage.
Clear debris: leaves, sticks, etc. restrict your grass from necessary sunlight, air, and nutrients.
Mow as necessary: when your grass goes dormant, you won’t need to mow anymore as it’s not actively growing. However, you can mow as necessary to prevent winter weeds from flowering
Landscape Frost Bites
A simple way to generate heat around plants is mulch, though we recommend using leaves since they provide just the right amount of coverage but don’t restrict irrigation to the soil. You can use a thicker mulch, just be sure to pull it back when watering so nourishment may still reach the roots.
We’re going to fashion a protective, cozy cover that will keep your plants warm and sheltered from harsh winds:
Using yard stakes (or something similar), create a makeshift frame around the plant. This is going to provide space, so the cover doesn’t crush it.
Next, you’ll wrap a plastic tarp or blanket around your frame, making sure there are no holes from bottom to top to retain heat from the soil.
Keep in mind that plants need sunlight and air, so you’ll need to be able to remove the covering during the day.
Now how might we turn the heat up to keep things toasty? The first method is to use Christmas lights to convey heat!
Carefully string the lights around the plant, being sure that no bulbs are making contact as this will cause damage.
Cover your festive creation with the frame to contain all the heat, inspecting it to ensure bulbs aren’t knocked into a dangerous position.
Another method to trap heat is to use a gallon jug of water…you heard us right, and we’re not crazy, promise:
The jug will absorb heat throughout the day and slowly release it at night, so leave it out by the plant during the day while the sun is out.
Cover the jug with the plant at night, being careful that no plant parts are touching the container as the condensation can cause it to freeze.
Winter pruning encourages spring growth and trains new plants, improving health and even “cutting back” the need for future trims. But this isn’t Christmas dinner: you don’t want to go ham!
The best time to prune is late winter so that come spring, you have bountiful growth.
For your shrubs, shear them in a natural shape as top-heavy shaping limits growth & casts excessive shade at the base. You can use a method called thinning cuts, selectively cutting where side shoots are attached.
For your young trees, pruning is used to train and encourage strong, healthy growth. Twin trunks shouldn’t be permitted to grow, so you’ll need to remove one. Use small cuts to make the process easier and encourage quick healing.
Remove all “V” shaped, crossing, or rubbing branches as these are weaker than wide-angled branches.
Let the small shoots continue to grow until they’re about an inch in diameter before removing as they provide nourishment and improve tree health!
We’re done with the plant portion (phew), now let’s tackle your irrigation system and mower! You’ll want to complete these steps after freezing temps when you’ll no longer need to water or mow your grass.
Turn off your irrigation controller and system water supply (near the water meter or backflow preventer)
Insulate exposed PVC pipes and install a freeze cover
Drain the above-ground irrigation components
Disconnect the spark plug before any other maintenance
Empty the gas tank & change the oil
Detach, clean, & sharpen the blade
Clean the undercarriage and degrease oil stains
For sit-down mowers, remove the battery and store it in a cool, dry place
Ensure your mower’s storage space is dry
Keeping Your Turf Emerald Strong All Year Long!
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