Winterizing Landscaping

By: Ross Latham

After working throughout the spring and summer to keep your greenery properly watered, fed, trimmed and free of disease, now in October and November it’s time to winterize. Seattle has approximately 60 days a year where the temperature drops below freezing. Winterizing your trees, shrubs and plants will help protect them throughout the colder winter months. Here are some tips for winterizing your yard, which should be started each year after November first:

Potted plants – You should protect your potted plants by moving then under an overhang. Any delicate plants should just be taken inside. If you leave any plants outside, make sure that they can drain properly.

Fertilizing - Grass should be fertilized with a low-nitrogen fertilizer to prevent new growth and bring about better tolerance of cold temperatures. This is also a good time to put lime on your grass, which can improve pH as well for the soil.

Mulch - Use mulch to insulate your tree roots and help regulate soil temperature.
Watering - Make sure your landscape is regularly and thoroughly watered until the ground freezes.

Irrigation systems - Irrigation systems should be opened and cleaned, including your drains and downspouts. Get all of the water out of the pipes to prevent expansion and damage from freezing during the cold months.

Trees – Remove any new sprouts, as well as any dangling twigs and branches, and wrap any new trees that can be easily damaged.

Fruit trees - Remove any fruit or leaves that have fallen to the ground. Use dormant spray when needed

Evergreens – Protect evergreens with an antidesiccant to reduce dehydration and prevent drying.

Also, fall is the ideal time to transplant your trees. Timing is one of the important considerations when you are planning a tree transplant. It is easier to transplant trees and shrubs when they are dormant. This is the period after the leaves turn in fall and before the spring growth begins. However, not to worry if you missed the ideal time because it is possible to transplant trees during the growing season with additional steps and treatments.

Your landscape should also be cleaned up as much as possible, including weeding, pruning, and cutting back plants. Remove any debris that may have collected on the ground. Rake up lawn leaves as well to avoid disease and damage. If you have questions about winterizing specific types of greenery, contact a local nursery. A tree and plant specialist will know how best to protect your landscape from the colder weather. With a little care, your landscape should make it through the winter season.

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Ross Latham is owner of Big Trees Inc. ( in Snohomish, WA, one of the largest Seattle tree nurseries with over 300 varieties--spring flowering, evergreen, privacy, young & mature trees and specializing in tree transplanting. See their blog at

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