Put your lawn to bed for winter
Depending on the weather so far, cool-season lawn grasses may still be green so it is important to remove any leaf litter so that it does not sit on the lawn over the winter. If leaf litter is left it will cause excess moisture on the surface, which can increase thinning of lawn grasses and increase disease potential. A clean-cut, litter- and debris-free lawn is healthier now and in the early spring when new growth begins.
Peak planting season for trees and shrubs runs into mid-December. We continue planting trees and shrubs throughout December and January as long as the ground is not excessively wet or frozen. Any plants you have purchased, including live Christmas trees, are better off planted in ground than overwintered aboveground without the protection of a cold frame.
Winter is also a great time for pruning. It is typically easier to prune deciduous trees and shrubs in the winter because it is easier to see what you are doing without the leaves. We often lightly shape hollies, boxwoods, and evergreen magnolias in early winter and you can use the greens for decorating. Heavy pruning or cutting back shrubs to rejuvenate them should wait until late February to mid-March. Take care when pruning azalea, hydrangea, forsythia, and many other flowering shrubs in the winter because removing the branches removes the flower buds formed and ready to bloom in the spring.
December is rose care month. This is when we cut back roses and mulch up around hybrid roses for winter protection. Because most roses continue to grow and bloom late into the fall we wait until they are dormant in mid-December to maintain them.
Putter—and enjoy the beauty of your winter garden
Throughout Kentucky we can count on many warm winter days over the next few months. When the weather is right head out into the garden to see what needs to be done. Chances are there is a lot to do. Leaves may have accumulated in the fence rows or shrub plantings, winter weeds may have sprouted and can be removed. I also think edging my bed lines is easier in the winter. There is a beauty to winter that is all its own and I like to enjoy it from my garden.