It’s Winter, So Let’s Wait

Last week, a client who had contracted for a considerable amount of landscape work, made this comment to us.

“It is the rainy season and it is so cold and wet, I am not sure about having the landscape work done now. Maybe, it would be better to wait till it’s warmer and dryer, possibly in April or May? On second thought, I think that we should go ahead and do the hardscape work, but let’s wait until the spring for the planting work.”

There are three reasons why it would be a good idea to install a new landscape during the rainy season (Fall/Winter):

  • If you have drainage issues, the rains will show you where they are.
  • The ground is soft and malleable now. It’s not difficult to dig for paths, pavers and so on. In the summer months, the ground is like concrete and becomes very difficult to dig.
  • Landscapers need to have work for their employees all year around. We only stop work when the ground is frozen or when there is a blanket of snow.

Here are three reasons why it is better to plant most plants during the rainy season:

  • In the rainy season, new plants are dormant, so they will not grow leaves, but instead will modestly grow new roots. This process allows new plants to begin rooting out into the surrounding soil when there is abundant moisture.
  • Because it is cool and moist weather, leaf transpiration (process of moving water from roots to leaves, where it is evaporated into the air) for evergreen plants is at a minimum. For the deciduous or herbaceous plants, there will be no transpiration at all.
  • It is the best time of the year to transplant existing plants because:
    • they will have minimal new top growth which, would force the damaged/cut roots to supply more moisture to the leaves, which they could not physically do.
    • they will have the opportunity to grow new roots out into the surrounding soil before the onset of the dry season

One reason we get the idea all planting and landscaping needs to take place in the spring is that annuals, veggies and flowering plants are confused with shrubs, trees and perennials, as to when is the best time to plant them.

This is probably because in all but the very esoteric cases, all annuals especially seeds, which most people want to plant, must be planted in the spring to be successful in the western Oregon.

I hope this clears a few things up for you. Here’s another reason to start your landscaping project now – you’ll jump to the top of our list!

 

Natural Holiday Decorations and December Gardening Tasks

If you have some time to spend outside or just need some time away from the holiday hoopla, here’s our task list for December:

  • This is a great time to transplant, unless the ground is frozen.
  • Protect new landscape plants (they seem to have a sail, don’t they?) from the wind with staking, guy wires, windbreaks or site selection.
  • Poinsettia care: protect from cold; place in sunlight; don’t let leaves touch cold windows; fertilize every three weeks; water just to keep moist.
  • Cut and dip holly for holiday use. If you dip the cut tips of the branch, the berries and the leaves do not wither or fall off. Holly Dip is available at your local nursery.
  • Continually rake leaves off the lawn and hard surfaces (leaves may be left in the beds for an inexpensive mulch that feeds the soil).
  • Before your guests come, cut and remove any ugly stalks of perennial flowers; mulch flowerbeds; and hoe or pull winter weeds, particularly in the parts of the yard that are viewed by the public
  • After the holidays, you may begin working on seriously cutting back all the perennials and ornamental grasses around the yard.
  • Monitor houseplants for adequate watering and humidity. Water and fertilizer requirements are much less in winter.
  • Consider garden-related holiday gifts for the gardeners you know.
  • It is still time to plant spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses; but don’t delay.
  • Watch the yard for wet or non-draining areas. Two possible solutions are: regrading the soil, installation of French drains and/or dry wells.