Make us your home page

Don't neglect winter garden chores

If it's too cold for yard work, there are other things you may want to do. Doing some chores in this winter weather will be easier than waiting to do them when temperatures rise.

Look closely at your lawn. The growth has certainly slowed down, but the weeds continue to thrive. Either pull the weeds or treat them selectively with an herbicide.

If you have trouble keeping Bermuda grass out of your St. Augustine grass, pull it by hand. It's more visible while dormant. The dormancy also seems to have weakened the root system. You can use an herbicide, but be aware that it also can kill desirable grass.

Some flowers, such as petunias and pansies, enjoyed the cold weather and are thriving. If you want some winter color, plant a few of these. Also fertilize and pick off spent blooms from existing flowers.

This is a good time to plant seeds if you want an easy, inexpensive addition to your flower garden. Try marigolds, alyssum, zinnia, sweet peas and snapdragons. These normally grow well in the area, and for just a few dollars you can have hundreds of flowers. Prepare the ground properly. Keep the seeds moist, and add a little fertilizer every few weeks. You'll amaze yourself.

Florida's challenging climate can be agreeable to a wide variety of herbs. Now is a good time to get a plot prepared for herbs, or at least plan on tucking a few here and there in your garden. They also grow wonderfully in containers. A few that love winter weather and will do well moving into summer are basil, dill, oregano, thyme, chervil and lavender.

If you wait until the middle of March when we are fairly sure that our cold weather has passed, you can plant just about any herb you like. Rosemary is a real workhorse and will last in the garden for years with minimal care.

If you have large outdoor containers, get them scrubbed up and ready to plant. Wash them in a solution of water and 10 percent bleach. Rinse them well and fill them with fresh soil. If you had plants growing in containers this winter, the plants were probably damaged by the cold and need replanting. Containers filled with a variety of flowers add color to the yard. Plan to add a few to your landscape this spring.

Even though the cold weather has been severe by Florida standards, we have been lucky in the amount of rain we have received. I have not used my irrigation system for about two months. I hand water vegetables as needed. This has produced quite the savings and has left my rain barrel full.

This is a slow time of year in the yard. The drabness of our landscape may carry over to our mood. But change that bleak outlook by adding some annual color and renewing the mulch with fresh material. Add a little punch to your winter landscape, and you also may see your attitude improve.

Mary Collister can be reached at

Don't neglect winter garden chores 02/18/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours