Managing Your Landscape Through the Rainy Season


The arrival of winter rains makes many trees and shrubs lose their leaves and become dormant. It also makes the ground soft, providing you with a great opportunity to make adjustments to your landscape.

Below are some landscape tips for late fall/early winter that should be done while the ground is soft and plants are dormant and as soil temperatures begin to warm.

Straighten any staked, leaning trees

While the ground is soft, there is a window of opportunity to straighten those adolescent trees. If allowed to mature crooked, there will forever be a crooked picture in your window. While we love the value proper trees bring to the property, an unintentionally leaning tree actually detracts from curb appeal. While the soil is wet and pliable take the chance to pull the adolescents into proper posture. If the tree breaks in the process you have still improved the property curb appeal (or appearance).

Remove unnecessary stakes

There’s nothing worse than trees holding up broke or hanging tree stakes. Set a systematic program to remove those obsolete tree stakes. If necessary, replace broken stakes or replace with guy cables.

Hard prune your rose bushes for plentiful, healthy blooms in the spring

Now is the last chance to hard prune your rose bushes to get the nice spring growth. Also, apply plant food and a systemic insecticide*. Do your best to keep water off the foliage as well. Low trajectory spray to root zone or drip irrigation is best.

Use dormant sprays for flowering trees

Flowering cherries, ornamental plums, and several other trees have microscopic fungus that harbor over on the branches and stems through the winter and damage the leaves as they develop during the spring. It is best to apply dormant treatments to the limbs prior to leaf development to kill the micro fungi and allow for clean beautiful leaf development.

Prevent snail damage

Annuals, succulents and grass-like perennials (like Agapanthus and Flax) are snail magnets. Monitor for snails (they like the wet weather!) and treat aggressively before they catch hold. Typical snail damage consists of holes in the center of the leaves as they cannot be supported on the edges of most leafs.

Stop the return of annual crab grasses

Crab grass is an annual that dies in the winter but leaves behind its seeds. As the soil temperature begins to drift above the 50 degree mark (typically mid-to-late February on the West Coast) seeds will begin to germinate. Spread a pre-emergent (seed stopper) to all known areas of last summer’s crab grass population. This will virtually arrest the re-infestation this season.

Control olive fruit

There is a short window of opportunity to control the development of the ultra-messy black olive fruit. Be sure your horticulture professional is on the watch for the exact proper timing to control this carpet-staining landscape item. Once you see the fruit, it’s too late.

Plan your spring landscape

Winter is a great time to start planning your spring landscaping, including any renovations or simply what flowers you might want to plant to brighten your landscape. Planting early in the season will put nature on your side as soils maintain moisture better before summer arrives. Mulching also adds extraordinary water retention.

*Systemic insecticides are transmitted through the veins of the plant.