Mild Winter's Pros and Cons!

This winter, so far, has been the mildest I can remember. Flowers have been blooming steadily. Just before Christmas, I saw a line of cherry trees on Three Chopt Road apparently in full bloom. The late January blooming daffodil, Rijnvelds Early Sensation, I saw in full bloom at the beginning of January. Even today, I can pick a bouquet of flowers out of my yard that would make you think it's spring. Spring flowering plants can flower this time of year because the buds are formed and just waiting for the warm weather to come. The buds that have opened now have given us their flower for the year, but rest assured there will be plenty more buds to open in the spring. Enjoy our unusually warm season of flowers that this weather is giving us. This Viburnum tinus in the photo has been blooming all winter, months earlier than normal.

Another aspect of this warm weather is the increase in weed production. Winter germinating weeds like chickweed normally germinate and sit dormant until the warm weather makes them quickly grow. They are a problem in lawns and mulch beds. I have already seen chickweed taking over mulch beds. It has a small fleshy leaf that has a billowy appearance. In the winter, the only method of control is to weed it out manually. Herbicides can be used in the spring. Luckily, this weed dies once the temperatures get warm in the late spring and summer. In light of what I've observed with chickweed being in abundance, we may be looking at a challenging spring season for weed control. This winter, clean your mulch beds of these unsightly weeds before applying pre-emergent weed control in the early spring.

This fall, clients mentioned to me how prevalent mosquitoes, ticks and fleas have been on their properties. It takes a hard frost and sometimes continued cold weather to kill these insects. I don't like to see these pests get to use your landscape more than you. Unfortunately, you have to control them, so they won't take over. This is also true of insects that damage your landscape plants. Using an integrated pest management approach is the best method. This method is to treat only the insects that are a problem. Don't blanket spray your entire property with a non specific pesticide. Use knowledgeable people that know the pests and how to treat them. This method helps minimize killing beneficial insects like bees and praying mantis. Natural or organic sprays are also available. Winter is a good time to interview and arrange for the pest management of your property, so you don't miss any necessary spring applications.

Winter is a season that deer feed on landscape plants. I am getting good reports from clients about Southern State's deer repellant. Spray plants that are getting eaten at the first signs of damage. Repeat according to the manufacturer's directions.

If you are working on improving your lawn, the soil's ph is an important factor. Have a soil test done now, so you can apply lime to start neutralizing acid soil. Soil tests can be done through your county's cooperative extension service or a private lab. Changing the soil's ph takes time, so start applying lime now to prepare for your lawn's fall seeding.

Weeds growing in groundcover especially liriope is a huge and annoying problem. It takes a tremendous amount of time to manually control these weeds and the root is never really eliminated. This allows the weed to regrow and start taking over you mulch bed again. Ornamec is a an herbicide that can be used to spray some groundcovers to eliminate weeds. This product has a list of groundcovers that can be sprayed causing no damage to them while eliminating the weed. Be sure to check this list before use. Ornamec is widely used by professional landscape maintenance firms to keep their client's grounds under control and beautiful.

Winter is the perfect time to start planning spring landscape projects. I would love to hear from you and greatly appreciate your referrals.

2012 marks the 31st year in business for Landesign of VA, Inc.! The company is fortunate to have dedicated clients that use us for repeat business and gladly refer us to their friends and family. Thanks so much for your continued support!!!

Please contact me to inquire about landscape design services.

Nancy Dransfield
Landesign of Virginia, Inc.
P.O. Box 15582
Richmond, Virginia 23227
Office: 804-261-6773

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