Working That Garden in January

January Tips for the Unrepressed Gardener

  With temperatures projected to be around freezing in the week of January 11th, there is still work that can be done for the gardener who is a little cold hardy. For myself, if I don’t get out into the sun a few times a week, I get just a little depressed, so when the weather is reasonably warm like it will be this week, getting out and about really helps limit the Seasonal Affect Disorder!

If there is anything you were hesitant to prune this fall because cutting stimulates growth, this is a good week to cut away. Shrubs and trees are dormant at this time and so will not respond to pruning. If you have a hydrangea that got out of hand, cut it to a height 3 feet below where you would like it to be. I have hydrangea that I cut to the ground every year, these shrubs are incredibly resistant.

This is a great week to work on taking dead wood out of your privet hedge as well. Privet, a classic, and very shapeable hedge material, needs regular thinning and cutting at the right time to keep it looking crisp and wall like. Many of us wait until our privet has grown in to shape it and work on it, wasting growth and making it harder to clean out old dead wood. In the winter, when the shrub is dormant and defoliated, it is a lot easier to find dead wood and remove it. Also, it is as good a time as any to think about what shape your wall of green will take in the spring and perhaps give it a little encouragement.

The same is true for low ornamental trees. This is an excellent time for removing crossing branches (branches that rub against each other), dead branches, and branches that are taking away from the natural shape of the tree. Cutting back wisteria and other aggressive vines can be done at this time. Avoid cutting early spring blooming shrubs like forsythia as their blooms have set for the spring. Cutting them now will reduce the spring blooms with every snip.

If you are looking to have this work done, local landscapers may be willing to perform these tasks at discounted rates as they are much slower in January than they are in June, giving you more time to hit the slopes.


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