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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Yard’s Annual Checkup

Think of this first day of December as you would the first day of spring. This is a good time to schedule an annual checkup for your landscape and garden. Whether it is the vole or rabbit perpetrator hideouts or the ailing branches on a shrub, bush or tree, now is a good time to run a final assessment of your property. As with our own health, early detection can be a matter of preventive measures rather than an underlying problem becoming a bigger issue.

So here’s the annual pre-winter inspection that should keep your garden in check for spring bloom.

- Run a soil analysis before the ground freezes. This is one of those things that often slip through the cracks but understanding your soil condition is critical to why everything survives and thrives in the garden.
- Check all trees and shrubs for damage or diseased limbs. This is a good time to assess what should be pruned i.e., crossed branches or branches with poor structural integrity.
- For big trees, this is a good time to contact a reputable arborist regarding major pruning, guying, cabling or removal of potential hazard trees prior to winter storms.
- If you haven’t removed the fallen leaves, debris, and the dead tops of your perennials, finish this before snow flies. Many diseases and insects overwinter in last year’s growth. If not removed, it can infect next season’s flush. Many diseases that hit a garden can be easily prevented if you keep your plant beds clean. Cleanliness is particularly critical with fruit bearing trees or vines.
- Mound your roses and mulch any newly planted material. Perennials in particular can be vulnerable to being heaved from the ground when exposed to periodic freeze and thaw conditions.
- If you have strawberries or garlic planted, mulch them with straw. This layer of insulation protects the crowns from severe cold.
- Winter inhabitants can raise havoc in your garden. Evict them before the season closes in. You can always rent ‘Caddyshack’ for some quick humorous tips. I did get some moth balls to place in the shed. The putrid smell is enough to knock over the best of us. We’ve yet to try the sonic buzzers. I get mixed reviews on them so if your success rate is high with these gadgets, post the name and price.

Hope that covers your garden’s annual check-up. And don’t forget to put a winter compost bin in close proximity to a pathway sure to be cleared of snow. Keep it accessible for handy kitchen scrap deposits. It’s one of those dreaded winter chores but you shan’t waste these valuable odds and ends. We’ll take a wrap with a funny inspirational quote from Joan Welsh. “A man's health can be judged by which he takes two at a time - pills or stairs.” Move on your annual garden checkup. One step now saves three steps later. Have a great 1st of December. Annie

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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)