|Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
|January Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
· Prepare to start seeds. Calculate the last frost for your region, then count back five to six weeks for your start date. Sow in seedling mix per instructions on seed packet. Mist as needed to keep soil damp. Watering from bottom encourages stronger root development.
· Immediately move living Christmas trees outdoors.
· Now is an excellent time to transplant mature or established trees and shrubs while they are dormant.
· Sow wildflower seeds.
· Continue to plant bare-rooted trees and shrubs in good weather. When buying plants, the biggest is not always the best, especially when dealing with bare-root plants. The medium to small sizes (four to six feet) are usually faster to become established and more effective in the landscape than the large sizes.
· Plant container and bare-root roses.
· Plant lettuce, cabbage and broccoli seed in cold frames to transplant within six to eight weeks.
· In water garden, add underwater plants as forage for fish.
· Transplant native plants while they are dormant.
· Plant bare-root strawberries now for a spring harvest. Consider planting in a raised bed, hanging basket, a barrel or an attractive strawberry jar.
· Try forcing amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus.
· Soil test before setting up a fertility program.
· Do not fertilize lawns with warm-season grasses in January or February. Winter weeds are in "prime time." Warm-season turf is dormant, or nearly so. Fertilizer in these months only encourages rampant weed growth and seed production.
· Don’t fertilize newly, set-out trees or shrubs until after they have started to grow, and then only very lightly the first year.
· Apply a light application of fertilizer to established pansy plantings. Use one-half pound of ammonium sulfate per 100 square feet of bed area. Repeat the application every four to six weeks, depending on rainfall. Dried blood meal is also an excellent source of fertilizer for pansies.
· Seedlings grown in soil less mixes should be fed when the first true leaves appear.
· Feed perennials when they start showing greenery.
· Pecan trees should be fed beginning late in the month with a fertilizer containing zinc.
· Don’t forget to feed winter flowering plants along with your lawn.
· Do not prune spring flowering plants, like azalea, quince, forsythia, spirea, etc. as you would be removing their spring flowers. If needed, these plants can be pruned when the plants have finished flowering.
· Cleanly prune any storm-damaged branches from trees and shrubs.
· Wait to prune crepe myrtles for more blooms till around Valentine’s Day.
· Prune deciduous fruit trees like apple, plum, peach and apricot. Pruning promotes the development of new fruiting branches and open the tree to sunlight.
· Prune trees as necessary to remove broken, rubbing or overlapping limbs. Also remove limbs hanging too close to the house or walkways.
· Turn and prune houseplants regularly to keep them shapely. Pinch back new growth to promote bushy plants.
· This is an excellent time to prune that invasive trumpet vine or honeysuckle threatening to take over your shrubs. There are plenty of warm, sunny days for a chore like this and it will be much easier now than waiting until the spring when everything is green again.
· Climbing roses should be trained but not pruned. Weave long canes through openings in trellises or arbors and tie them with jute twine or plastic/wire plant ties. Securing canes now prevents damage from winter winds and contributes toward a more refined look to the garden when roses are blooming. Wait until after the spring flowering period to prune climbing or once-blooming shrub roses.
· When pruning shrubs, first prune out any dead or damaged branches; then thin by removing about one-third of the canes or stems at ground level, removing the oldest canes only; and last, shape the rest of the plant, but do not cut everything back to the same height.
· Water all plants and the lawn in absence of rainfall.
· If a freeze is forecast, well-watered roots are less susceptible to freeze-damage.
· During the winter, low humidity combined with indoor heat can cause houseplants to dry out quickly. Check soil often and water when the top half-inch has dried out. Water foliage plants as well as other containerized plants only when needed and not by the calendar.
· Water holiday gift plants with care. Check the soil before watering to make sure it is dry and to avoid drowning plants. Allowing these and other houseplants to dry out between waterings will help prevent or control fungus.
· Check the potting mix in pots used to force bulbs indoors. The mixture should be evenly moist without standing water. The easiest way to determine moisture is to lift the pots. A dry pot will be lighter than a wet one.
· Spot water any dry areas of your landscape to avoid plant desiccation, but do not overwater. Overwatering encourages root rot.
· This is a good time to eliminate slugs. Every slug left to roam the garden will reproduce 200 offspring this spring, summer and fall. In addition, the offspring will also reproduce young.
· Spray apples, peaches and pears affected with canker problems.
· Keep an eye open for insects on your houseplants. Quarantine gift plants until you determine they aren’t harboring any pests.
· If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse, be sure to check those plants for insect infestation.
· Mealy bugs on your houseplants can be killed by touching them with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
· Remove aphids from houseplants with a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water and add a drop of dishwashing detergent. Apply this to troubled plants with a soft brush.
· Review your gardening chemicals and check for deteriorating containers. Consult local authorities for acceptable ways of disposing of chemicals you no longer use.
· Spray fruit trees with horticultural oil to kill insects, eggs and larvae. Early winter is a good time to make an application of dormant spray to help control over-wintering insect and disease problems. A combination lime sulfur and oil spray or copper spray are the ones most often used for winter dormant spraying. Do not spray when the temperatures are below freezing, it is raining or the wind is blowing.
· Check junipers and other narrow-leaf evergreens for bagworm pouches. The insect eggs overwinter in the pouch, and start the cycle again by emerging in the spring to begin feeding on the foliage. Hand removal and burning of the pouches are ways of reducing the potential damage next spring.
· Watch for rabbit, field mice or other rodent damage on lower trunks of trees and shrubs. Control measures include tree wraps, mesh guards, baits, weed control to remove hiding places and traps.
· Watch for grass fungus (brown patch, take-off, etc.), FL Weed-Out, Spectrum Weed Stop.
· Handpull winter annuals like common chickweed and henbit.
· To control mealy bugs, spider mites and scale on houseplants, use insecticidal soap.
· Start a gardening journal for the new year. Wire coil sketchbooks work well for notes, planning, ideas, germination times and results. You’ll enjoy it next winter when you plan the next season’s garden.
· Make flower and vegetable garden plans now before the rush of spring planting. Time spent in armchair gardening before the fireplace will pay off in improved plant selection.
· Early in the month, turn under clover and other green-manure crops in the vegetable garden so the soil will be ready for planting in the next few months.
· If you are preparing a new border, now is the time to mix compost, lime or other amendments into the bed.
· Now is also the time to prepare your site for roses. Make sure soil is not wet. Dig and work the soil thoroughly over as large an area as possible. Spread a two to four-inch layer of compost or other organic matter. Add limestone to increase soil pH (if recommended by soil test). Mix material into bed eight to 12-inches deep. Allow the bed to settle for a few days before planting.
· On warm days, take a look at the bare bones of your garden structure. See where plants can be placed, which plants might need to be moved, and write down your thoughts and ideas for future reference when the planting season begins.
· Check your tools. Clean and sharpen blades on hand tools. Have mower serviced if you didn’t do it in the fall before you put them away. Budget for new tools or replacements now.
· January is a good time to get down and check out the condition of those gourds you have put away to dry in the garage or back porch. A little mold may appear on the surface but will not be a problem. If the gourds are to be left natural, the mold patterns will add interest, or they can be scrubbed off with warm water. To provide a natural look, polish them with a cloth or go over them with hard floor or shoe wax or polyurethane.
· Look over any tender bulbs, corms, tubers and produce you have stored away for shriveling and rot. You can usually rehydrate shriveled bulbs by sprinkling them with water. Remove anything showing signs of decay. Dahlia tubers are the exception: cut out the bad spots, dust tubers with sulfur and store separately.
· Think about how you might incorporate stone in your garden. Look into types of stone, characteristics that complement and the different roles stone plays in design.
· A water feature is a garden element that can take many different forms. A simple birdbath is attractive and functional while a fountain or waterfall can bring a garden to a whole new level of sophistication.
· To clean crusty clay pots, add one cup each of white vinegar and household bleach to a gallon of warm water and soak the pots. For heavily crusted pots, scrub with a steel wool pad after soaking for 12 hours.
· If you have succulents like jade, hoya and sansevieria, they may be reluctant to bloom in the house. Grow them in a small pot and hold back the water. This may persuade them to flower.
· The low-light levels of winter call for some adjustments in the placement of houseplants. Bring houseplants that normally thrive on the north side of the house to east windows, while allowing the plants from the east more sun on the south.
· Open the doors and windows when temperatures permit to give your house a change of air. This will benefit you and your houseplants.
· Organize pots, soil, heating mats and lights for growing from seed.
· Clean yard of any downed or broken branches. Tie any vines or climbers that have come loose from their supports.
· Propagate split-leaf philodendrons and other leggy indoor plants by air-layering.
· Appreciate the wealth of accurate information.
· Please feed the birds and other small creatures which may not be able to find food. For only a few dollars you can feed an enormous number of birds. Birds like suet, fruit, nuts and bread crumbs as well as bird seed. You don’t have to be a bird watcher to enjoy the feeling you get when you’ve helped out one of God’s creatures.