According to WeatherUnderground and several other weather forecasters, a storm is coming later this week bringing snow and freezing temperatures. If the storm arrives as expected, overnight lows on WEDNESDAY will reach the 20s. This will be a hard freeze with a harsh arrival – plummeting from a lovely 70 degrees down to 28 or so in just a few hours. Hopefully we’ll get just a bit of snow with it to protect the roots of our favorite trees and shrubs from the flash freeze. Here’s a short to-do list before the weather changes:
- Bring in any potted plants you especially love, if you haven’t already.
- If you have an irrigation system with a hose-end timer, disconnect your controller from the hose bib. For instructions, see this blog post on “Winterizing.”
- Disconnect your hoses from the spigots. If you have a hose-Y or a 4-way extender, be sure all of the toggles are in the “on” position.
- If you haven’t had your home sprinkler system blown-out already, it is a good idea to drain your back-flow device. There are many types of back-flow devices. The CSU Extension Service has a good write-up with instructions for draining here.
- Harvest anything left in the garden. Root crops and cold weather crops should be covered and if you still have tomatoes, harvest them even if they’re still green.
If you look closely, the frost can be beautiful, if only for a moment.
Next week, we’ll will return to autumn weather when you can finish up a few more landscaping tasks before winter, including:
- Have the sprinkler system blown-out and winterized properly. There are many local yard care companies which provide this service or you can do it yourself with an air compressor.
- Remove the annual debris from your container gardens. Remove about a third of the soil as well. This minimizes the chance your pots will crack over the winter.
- Remove any diseased foliage from your landscape plants and dispose of it in the garbage, not the compost pile. Peonies were particularly affected by powdery-mildew this year. For information about that, see this blog post.
- Wrap your young trees with tree wrap to prevent sun scald on the trunk.
- Pull weeds now or spot spray with herbicide to avoid the weed seeds spreading in the spring.
- Some people clean up all the leaves and spent plants in the fall; others wait to do that clean-up in the spring. Either way is fine, just be sure the pile of leaves on your flower bed isn’t so thick it will smother the plants.
- Leaves can be raked up and removed or use your lawn mower with the mulching attachment to chop up the leaves and leave the pieces on the lawn.
- Mow the turf grass using a lower height setting on the mower. Cutting the grass shorter can help reduce the matting we see in the spring from the grass being under snow load.
- Fertilize the turf grass using a good “winterizing” fertilizer.
Set reminders on your calendar so you remember to water over the winter. You should water your trees and shrubs every three to four weeks unless we’ve had some reasonable precipitation.