|Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
|January Lawn and Garden Checklist|
· Leaf lettuces and other salad greens can be planted beginning in mid-January through March. They will need the protection of row cover or a sheet on extremely cold nights, but a fresh harvest for the dinner salad makes it well worth the effort.
· Plant anise, borage, chives, chervil, coriander, fennel, garlic, lavender, marjoram, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, sesame, sweet marjoram and thyme.
· Sow wildflower seeds.
· If a live Christmas tree was purchased, plant outdoors as soon as possible.
· Now is an excellent time to transplant mature or established trees and shrubs while they are dormant.
· Now is an excellent time to select and plant container-grown roses to fill in those bare spots in your rose garden.
· Repot houseplants as they outgrow current pots. If you see roots when you look at the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, chances are it’s time to transplant.
· Add lime according to soil test recommendations. For best results in home landscapes, till the lime into the root zone area for whatever plant you intend to grow. Surface applied lime reacts very slowly and not as completely as lime mixed into the soil. The sooner the lime is applied in the winter, the more ready you’ll be for spring planting.
· Fertilize asparagus beds in late January.
· Don’t fertilize newly-planted 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.
· Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs as they break ground. Use an all-purpose granular fertilizer according to label directions or apply a light dusting of compost.
· Grapes should be cut back to the main structure of the plant, leaving two buds per side-shoot as a general rule.
· Berries need to be cut back, spent canes removed and new sucker growth controlled.
· Most trees can have dead limbs removed, suckers trimmed off, old seedpods removed, lanky growths trimmed and crisscrossing limbs controlled any time of year.
· When pruning a tree, make cuts just outside the branch collar. The branch collar is located at the point where a branch attaches to another or to the trunk. Cuts flush with the trunk or another branch take longer to heal than branch collar cuts. Also, long stubs left beyond a branch collar take longer to heal and may produce weak sprouts.
· Pruning paint, although once thought to be beneficial, sometimes actually inhibits healing. Leaving pruning wounds alone to heal is the best method.
· Once amaryllis flowers are spent, remove the flower and stalk. Keep the plant in bright light.
· Don’t prune French or big leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) when you are doing your pre-season pruning. If you do, you will cut off flower buds that formed last summer. ‘PeeGee’ hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) is pruned in late winter, as it blooms in late summer on current year’s growth.
· Some shrubs, sometimes referred to as sub-shrubs, should not be pruned until freezing temperatures have passed. Common sub-shrubs in this area are butterfly bush (Buddleia), blue-mist spirea (Caryopteris), Russian sage (Perovskia) and Lavender (Lavendula).
· Spring-flowering trees and shrubs should not be pruned until after flowering.
· Since pruning encourages new growth, do not prune frost damaged plants or subtropicals until after the last frost.
· Prune standard roses this month 18 to 24 inches above the ground leaving the inside of the crown free from crossed branches and open to let the sun and air penetrate. Find an outside node (eye) with five leaves and cut at a slant ¼ inch above it on the stem. Remove any old branches and leaves making room for this year’s new growth.
· Climbing roses can be espaliered and pruned by removing last year’s upright growth, do not prune the end of the branch unless you want the rose limb to stop growing in that direction.
· Now through mid-February is the time to cut back winter-damaged, unattractive liriope (monkey grass) foliage. Avoid tipping the new growth or there will be brown edges for the year to come. If you do it now before growth begins, you can use a string trimmer or the lawn mower set at its highest setting.
· Ornamental grass tops should be cut back now. On old, established clumps prune back to two feet or so, with the younger plantings simply tipped back to remove the brown foliage.
· Water outdoor plants in the absence of rain and especially when freezing weather is expected. Well-hydrated plants are more likely to survive severe temperatures.
· As a result of light and temperature declines, houseplants slow their growth during the winter months. They will not need as much water. Some signs of overwatering include wilt, stunted growth, yellow leaves, dropping of lower leaves, black or brown water spots on leaves, soft and/or shriveled stems.
· Be sure to keep an eye on all newly-planted items through the winter to ensure they get enough water. An inch a week should be the goal.
· Watch for rabbit, field mice or other rodent damage on lower trunks of trees and shrubs. Control measures include tree wraps, mesh guards, baits, traps and weed control to remove hiding places.
· Apply post-emergence weed control to actively growing broadleaf weeds. Read label instructions.
· Many weeds are still merrily going through their flowering and seeding cycle even in January. Uproot them before seeds spread to spare yourself weeding future generations.
· Hand-pull winter annuals like common chickweed and henbit.
· This is a good time to eliminate slugs. Every slug left to roam the garden will reproduce 200 off-spring this spring, summer and fall. In addition, the offspring will also reproduce young.
· Dormant spraying is needed to control spring pests and leaf curl fungus. Spray with lime sulfur and horticultural oil or with a fixed copper and oil solution. Do not apply dormant spray to any foliage.
· Use an all-purpose spray (not dormant spray) on evergreen ornamentals to protect against red spider, thrips and scale.
· Keep soggy leaves removed from under trees and shrubs as this could be a haven for pest nests and snails/slugs. Remove any weeds and add new mulch to conserve water this spring and summer.
· Check junipers and other narrow-leaf evergreens for bagworm pouches. The insect eggs over winter 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 reduce future damage.
· Rake fallen rose leaves and discard them as many disease organisms persist through the winter. Covering them up with new mulch will not solve your disease problems.
· Keep an eye out for signs of houseplant pests like spider mites, mealybugs and scale insects. If tackled before they get out of hand, nonchemical methods are usually successful: a simple shower, insecticidal soap spray (as directed on label) or, with the most tenacious (like mealybugs), sometimes an alcohol swab and Q-tip. Overwatering is the biggest risk to houseplants in winter…go easy.
· If you don’t already keep one, 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 and appreciate the wealth of accurate information.
· Read the gardening books you received as gifts! Make landscape diagrams of your existing garden (in your garden journal) and work out your design for the next growing season. Sketch spring garden plans, including what to grow, spacing, arrangement and number of plants needed.
· Of course, it’s a good time for planning and plotting for any new gardens or beds you want. If you’re lucky enough to have unused areas, go ahead and prepare beds by getting rid of grass and weeds, adding compost and working it into the soil.
· Forsythia, jasmine and quince sprays can be cut and brought into the house now for forcing. The warmth in the home will bring some early bloom to your room.
· You can force hyacinth, paperwhite narcissus and Lily of the Valley bulbs into bloom indoors in a shallow bowl of water or in pots this month. If you can’t have spring yet...fake it!
· If the ground is workable at all (not too wet), now is an excellent time to turn the soil in existing beds. Not only will this expose insect eggs to the effects of winter and hungry birds, the freezing will help to break apart heavy clods of dirt.
· One of the benefits of living and gardening in the Southeast is the harvest of fresh veggies just about year around. Collard, kale, spinach, turnips and other greens can be harvested from the garden throughout the winter if planted in late fall.
· Extra time this month might well be spent getting the garden tools ready for spring. Sharpen and oil tools like shovels, shears, mowers and the like.
· Could the wheelbarrow, garden wagon or hand trucks use a fresh coat of paint?
· Turn houseplants every two weeks for balanced foliage as they seek sunlight.
· Apply anti-desiccants to newly-planted evergreens.
· If an unexpected warm streak fools bulbs into thinking it’s springtime, help protect them with an extra, light layer of mulch.
· Examine produce, tender flower bulbs and roots stored for the winter to make sure there is no rot, shriveling or excess moisture. Remove and discard damaged material.
· Add fresh manure to the vegetable garden soil to allow for decomposition before planting time.
· It will soon be time to plant seeds of nasturtiums. They will germinate even when the soil is cool and, by giving them a head start, you will have larger plants. Use both blossoms and leaves in green spring salads for their peppery zest. For best results when planting, soak the pea-size seeds in a saucer of water overnight; then push them about an inch deep into containers or garden soil. Generally speaking, you can sow these seeds late-January to early-February south of Birmingham and two weeks later further north.
· Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous ornamental shrubs and trees for propagation.
· Organize pots, soil, heating mats and lights for growing from seed.
· Propagate split-leaf philodendrons and other leggy indoor plants by air-layering.
· Inspect stakes and wires on newly-planted trees to make sure they are still straight and not damaging the bark.
· Feed the birds! If cold, blustery days are not enough for them to endure, long, cold nights are even worse. The natural summer and fall food supply has either been eaten, has died or is frozen and insects have passed on a new generation of larvae inactive until spring. Just a few dollars spent on wild birdseed can go a long way.