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WHAT'S BLOOMIN'

Gardening column: Help your turf and trees survive winter's wear

Friday, December 28, 2012 - 12:01 am

Happy New Year, everyone — there are only a few short days left in this old year and we'll soon be singing “Auld Lang Syne” and looking forward to a whole new period of time that is filled with possibilities.

In the meantime, here are a few short tips to help your evergreen shrubs and trees and turf grass survive winter wear and tear.

•Remove that overload of snow and ice from your evergreens with a quick careful swish of the broom. This will help keep branches from snapping under the load and shrubs being all out of shape come spring.

•If you have to walk through your lawn to enter the house, vary where you walk. Going over the same route each time will damage the grass and cause bare or thin spot.

•Cold weather or not, this is a great time to prune fruit and other trees while they are dormant. Be careful to leave a short knob where each branch is cut. This will help the plant to heal when spring arrives and the sap rises.

•Many of us have family pets (dogs), and they tend to go in the same places in the lawn during the winter. Where the female dog goes is more damaging because she goes close to the ground. This causes what appear to be dead spots in the grass. Rather than the acid in the urine being the culprit, it is actually the urea, which is a form of nitrogen.

If you regularly fertilize the lawn grass that the dog uses, the fertilizer overload will burn the grass and eventually kill it and create bare spots. If your turf blend contains quite a bit of clover and your lawn is healthy, this can help the lawn survive the repetitious pet problem.

Winter snowfalls with intermittent warming that melts the snow can help dilute the effects of the nitrogen. If there is no snow, flushing the area with water immediately after the pet uses it can help counteract the nitrogen buildup.

Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to jaf701@frontier.com. You also can read her What's Bloomin' blog at www.news-sentinel.com. This column is the writer's opinion.