10 Tips for the January Gardener

1.      Check out the Garden Master classes that are available throughout the state at http://mastergardener.uconn.edu/. Most classes are open to both Master Gardeners and the general public.

2.      If driveways or sidewalks have been treated with a de-icer that contains sodium chloride do not pile this snow on plants or in areas where the melting snow will drain on to them. Consider using sand, sawdust, litter, or one of the commercial products that are labeled as safe for plants.

3.      Fill bird feeders regularly, supplying a variety of seed and suet to accommodate a variety of tastes. Clean feeders and baths monthly with a solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water, rinsing thoroughly. A heater in the birdbath ensures a usable water supply.

4.      Remove snow from evergreens as soon as possible after a storm. Prune storm-damaged limbs to prevent further tearing of the bark. Prop up ice-covered branches until the ice melts instead of attempting to remove it.

5.      Avoid heavy traffic on the dormant winter lawn. The crowns of grass plants may be severely damaged.

6.      Prepare your hand tools for the upcoming season. Sharpen the blades, oil the levers, and remove any rust. Painting the handles red or orange will make the tools easier to locate when they are laid down in the lawn or garden.

7.      If a thaw occurs apply anti-desiccant sprays to broad-leaved evergreens. Anti-desiccants are best sprayed if the temperature reaches 40 degrees and no precipitation is forecasted for a few days. Spray both the tops and the undersides of the leaves.

8.      Post-holiday Christmas trees and evergreen boughs can be used to mulch tender perennials and shrubs.

9.      Protect the bark of young fruit trees from hungry mice by keeping mulch several inches from the trunk or by putting wire-screen mouse guards around the trunk of the trees.

10.  Inspect ornamental trees and shrubs for scale insects. Make a note to treat any infestations with dormant oil after the temperature is above 40 degrees but before the plants leaf out.

For more information visit the UConn Home & Garden Education Center or call (877)-486-6271.