Josh Blanek

Now that the temperatures have cooled off and the grass has quit growing many homeowners are now thinking about holidays, and school activities and not their yard. I myself have noticed I have been neglecting my yard as I have been busy with other things and the days have gotten shorter. However, since we live in Texas where often times most of the winter feels like fall we must continue to maintain our lawns and gardens year round.

The roots of grass and most other landscape plants that are responsible for water and nutrient uptake are mostly found in the first eight inches of soil depth. In Texas very rarely do we see temperatures cold enough to freeze this layer of soil and in fact the soil stays warm enough that the roots are actually growing during winter even though the rest of the plant appears to be dormant. Because we have an actively growing root system we must make sure that it has an adequate amount of moisture throughout the winter. By watching the weather and our yard we can apply needed moisture if necessary. By doing so we make sure we get off to a rapid start next spring.† But be careful and donít over water this winter.† We have started the fall off with some good moisture and the climatologists are saying itís going to be a wet winter.† Overwatering can lead to fungus and disease problems.

Winter weeds can often become a problem in vacant vegetable gardens or even in flower beds. One good method to help combat this problem is to put down several inches of an organic mulch. By using mulch in these areas you can help prevent the emergence of such winter weeds, help conserve moisture, protect the root system, and add organic material back into the yard. Thatís a lot of benefits from some dead wood chips, leaves or cut grass.† Donít forget the mulch at the county transfer station (landfill) works great.

Finally, use the winter time to make sure everything is ready for spring green up. Remember to drain and store hoses and sprinklers to prevent damage from an early freeze. Also winter is a good time to conduct a soil sample so that the proper amount of fertilizers can be put down during next yearís growing season. If needed, make sure to properly store unused seed for next yearís use in a cool dry location and have those lawnmowers and other power equipment serviced and blades sharpened before the spring rush.

There was a lot of work that was put into your yard this summer. By taking the time to do a little yard work this winter you can make sure the work you put in this past summer will continue to show benefits next summer.

For more information contact the Somervell County Extension Office at 254/897-2809.