New Year’s Eve is coming quickly, and if you’re planning on having friends over to watch the ball drop you have two choices. You can spiffy up the landscape, or you can turn off all the outside lights until after the champagne starts to flow. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be able to turn on the lights with pride.
1. Freshen the mulch
Winter is a time of blah and gray, and by late December your plant beds may look dull and littered with whatever leaves may have blown in. Give your beds an easy, inexpensive facelift by raking or blowing the leaves and debris away and topdressing with an inch or two of mulch. Cost: negligible
2. Prune something
Winter is not the time to prune evergreens, because they may still push new growth that’ll get zapped by the next frost. However, you can prune dormant deciduous plants. The Chicago Botanic Garden has some great tips here. Follow their advice and you’ll have a tidy, trimmed landscape in no time. Cost: just your labor
3. Score a sweet deal
Around here, some nurseries close for the season. Others stay open, but maintain a skeleton crew. If you can find an open nursery or garden center you might just find some great deals. After all, a plant in the ground survives winter way more easily than one in a pot in a parking lot or hoop house, so some nurseries are happy to let the plants go at a discount. One of my clients bought several specimen evergreens that retail for $400+ each for $75 apiece. Not bad! Just know that there’s likely no warranty on these, but for the price? Totally worth the risk. Cost: Whatta ya got?
4. Go above ground
If you’re like me, winter rolls around and you probably have a stack of empty pots behind the shed that are waiting for spring herbs and annuals. You paid for those pots, buddy. Make them work for you all year long! Obviously you can’t use standard-grade terra cotta pots in winter or else freezing temps could crack them, but plastic and fiberglass and metal are all in play. Small boxwood, nandina, or even hollies and dwarf Alberta spruces can look great in containers and will generally be just fine through a Virginia winter. You can either find small evergreen groundcovers to cover the soil, or just mulch with tumbled glass. Easy and inexpensive. Cost: If you have the pots and soil, $10-100 per pot depending what you buy
5. Buy that garden ornament you’ve been eyeing. Go on, you deserve it
You know what has always bugged me? I go to someone’s home and the yard is as boring as the neighbors to either side, but you step inside and wham! Personality everywhere. Let your freak flag fly, people! If you’ve been considering an ornament, now’s a great time. One of my clients installed a four foot tall concrete cat; another has a giant steel dog. You could go super traditional and get Saint Francis or Buddha, or you could go garden nerd and get Saint Fiacre (he’s the patron saint of gardeners. Also taxi drivers and venereal disease sufferers. Busy guy). No matter what, have FUN with it and show off who you are!
What projects are you tackling this winter?