Tips For Landscaping During The Winter

The winter months are a busy time of the year with festivities and family activities. This plus the colder weather often causes landscaping to be overlooked. There are many benefits to landscaping projects even during the winter.

The landscape, shrubs, and trees are in dormancy during the winter months. Winter maintenance makes sure your landscape will return healthy in the spring and prevents unexpected maintenance issues as well. Here are a few helpful tips for maintaining a landscape during the winter.

Yard Clean-up

Cleaning up your flower beds maintains a good visual appearance. Pick up all the leaves, dead branches, and smaller twigs from the beds. This will also give you a better understanding of what is happening in your flower bed and if anything needs to be addressed in the spring.

This would be a great time for a quick weeding on the warmer winter days. This makes sure that weeds are not present during the spring growing seasons. It’s a lot easier to remove the roots when they are dormant as opposed to when they are active. This is the first step before applying mulch that will protect the soil from frost.


Most people only mulch in the spring. It makes the yard look great and maintains moisture during the summer. However, we also recommend mulching in the winter because it provides insulation for the soil. Be careful not to create mulch volcanoes around trees as this can have a negative effect on root health. We recommend a mulch depth of 1.5-2 inches for the winter months. Mulch holds moisture and may cause root rot if mulch is too thick around the plantings.

When mulching, think about more than just your plants. Think about yourself. Consider the access points to your backyard. Factor in the easiest path of entry to make things easier. If you’re having mulch delivered, try to have it placed on a tarp in your driveway. If it is placed on the grass, make sure it’s moved in a timely fashion. This way you avoid lawn spots caused by dumped mulch. Also, when spreading it, never overload a tarp or wheelbarrow pass its capacity. This could put an unneeded strain on your body and the equipment.

Winter Trimming for Trees and Shrubs

During the winter, trees are dormant; thus it’s the best time for pruning. When pruned, the tree must heal over the opening made by the cut. On trees that have low water content, like Elms, pruning should be only done during the winter. Only remove deadwood from Elm trees during the summer. Removing live tissue on an Elm during the summer can introduce pests and diseases. This could even kill an Elm tree. Avoid heavy summer pruning or thinning on these trees.

During the winter, it’s safe to separate shrubs and trees through pruning. A trick for Crepe Myrtle is to remove the old flowers during the winter. If you do this, a more robust flower will bloom in the spring.

It is also easier to see the tree structure when the leaves are off. This is vital for removing any potential issues. Overgrown limbs, branch attachments, and poor structure are important to notice. Here’s a link for information on proper pruning cuts. If you’re not interested in heavy pruning yourself, we recommend removing the low deadwood and elevating low limbs.

When dealing with trees, it’s important to consider if heavy ice and snow could break a limb or split a tree. Limbs that seem overgrown or too long may pose a threat with heavy ice. If you have any questions with your tree’s structure, our Arborists will be glad to help assess both your trees and landscape.

Lawn Winter Tips

It’s recommended to perform lawn maintenance during the late fall and early winter. This ensures favorable spring conditions. The most important thing to do is pick up the leaves from your lawn. If leaves remain, they will cause spots during the winter and spring.

This is also a good time to amend your soil, if needed. It is our recommendation to perform soil testing before any amending. It’s essential to understand soil analysis before applying any additional nutrients or fertilizer. This will ensure that roots have the proper conditions for winter preparation.

Finally, avoid walking on frozen grass if possible. Most people do not realize that this does severe damage to their grass. Use walkways and paths. If you don’t have any, take the time to install them.

In the Maryland and Northern Virginia area, we are expecting a wet winter. We have received a large amount of rain this year. We and other professionals suspect it will continue throughout the end of winter. Thus, it is important to perform preventative maintenance. This will reduce surprise landscape issues and it ensures favorable growing conditions during the spring.

Holidays are a hectic time and sometimes we can’t accomplish everything we’d like to. Apply a couple of these suggestions yourself and let GV handle the rest. We have been in business since 2001 and are happy to share these tips to ensure that our clients have great looking landscaping.

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