Tag Archive | landscape

Winter Care

by Diana Alfuth, horticulture educator for Pierce and St. Croix counties UW-Extension

Each winter brings challenges for our outdoor landscapes, and when spring comes, we find winter injury on lawns and other plants. Some of these problems can be avoided with proper winter maintenance.

Be careful when shoveling, plowing, or blowing snow so it doesn’t land on tree or shrub branches and crack them. Frozen branches can be easily damaged, and that damage can ruin the plant’s structure forever.

Also, don’t remove snow from the lawn grass. Snow helps insulate the soil so it doesn’t freeze as hard. It also protects the crowns of the grass plants from the drying winter weather. The snow keeps them dormant until the time is right to start growing.

If possible, avoid mountains of shoveled snow, because deep piles that melt into chunks of solid ice can smother the grass, resulting in dead spots.

Salt is very harmful not only to lawns, but to trees, shrubs, and perennials when it gets in the soil. If you use products to melt ice on walkways and drives, look for one that does not contain sodium chloride and is environmentally friendly and safe for plants. When you shovel treated areas, try not to pile salt-laden snow all in one place, or near plants that may be damaged.

Once snow starts melting or if we get a winter thaw and lawns and gardens are exposed, don’t walk on them. That can damage the grass and compact the soil.

Visit our previous blog post on alternatives to salt here.


Miniature Neighbors

20170709_152219OCMGA Master Gardener Colleen Reed recently undertook a project to remove a small pond that had been in her yard, and replaced it with a whole new group of neighbors!

As Janit Calvo says in her book Gardening in Miniature, “What is it that draws the heart and eye to things smaller than real life? Perhaps the fact that anything miniature reminds us of play. After all, childhood toys were our first miniatures.”

Whatever the reason, gardening in miniature (or, creating mini-wonderlands) has become a huge industry. Once you are bitten by the miniature garden bug, there’s no turning back. The miniature industry is the biggest segment of the toy and hobby market, and the sheer number of sizes and scales is mind-boggling.


To ensure the realism that creates enchantment, these critical elements are necessary: plants, accessories, and a patio or pathway. The planned, intentional aspect of a patio or walkway immediately signals to the viewer that this is no ordinary planting, teasing them to come in for a closer view.


Creating your own little world is a lot of fun once you have the right parts, plants, and pieces all together. So collect the ingredients and tools, pour a favorite beverage, and enjoy some creative time with a new hobby!