NDSU Extension - Williams County


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November 5, 2015

Last Minute Chores


Well folks, its November which means the cold wintery months are here. I have mentioned cleaning up gardens, trees and lawns, but there are also a few other things that can, or should, be done.

With Halloween now being over, something you can do with those pumpkins. Add them to your compost pile by smashing them up to about 1 inch or smaller pieces. That also may be a good idea after Thanksgiving when you maybe taking down your outdoor fall display, of course depending if we have snow on the ground. There will not be a lot of activity in compost piles in the winter, but having the materials in piles when spring comes will help get a jump start on your composting.  Another thing that should be done soon is winterizing powered garden and yard tools, like your lawn mower. Scraping off dried grass or dirt from the underside will help remove materials that could possibly hold moisture, preventing rust. Siphon out as much gasoline as possible and run the engine until it is dry. There is also the possibility of adding a fuel stabilizer, which will help keep the fuel useable for spring mowing. When adding a fuel stabilizer, let the mower run for a few minutes for the fluid to circulate. A few other maintenance things that could be done are removing spark plugs and battery, replace or clean the air filter and sharpening or replacing the mower blades. When storing your mower, try to keep it in a cool and dry place, if using a cover try to use a fabric cover as it is still breathable and will not trap moisture. Speaking of lawn mowers, maybe using it one last time might not be a horrible idea. Having long grass in the spring that was left from fall, attracts rodents and is subject to mold. Cutting your grass in the fall at normal height or slightly lower, 1.5 – 2 inches is recommended. While mowing your yard in the fall, you will be able to shred your leaves. Sometimes raking leaves is out of the question, but when mowing over them (shredding) that will allow breathable space for your lawn. Leaving leaves on your yard will also promote mold growth, in the fall you want your grass to not suffocate.

Landscaping for winter interest

During the winter months, the landscaping colors seem to disappear. There are some plants that maybe used to keep bright colors around year long.  During the winter, we see white and brown, but the bark on trees can still be quite beautiful. The papery bark of birch trees add a great touch to our white winter landscape, planting birch trees in a moist spot with a north or east facing exposure and it will thrive. There are some other barks that do add some color and patterns; amur chokecherry, cherry, Japanese tree lilac, Hackberry and ‘Cobblestone’ bur oak.

The class Christmas holly doesn’t grow in North Dakota but we can grow common winterberry. These fruit are persistent and add a pop of color against the white, two varieties that are said to do great are ‘Winter Red’ and ‘Red Sprit’. Crabapples are normally selected for the beautiful spring flowers, but selecting the following varieties will promote color into the winter months. ‘Red Jewel’, ‘Prairifire’, ‘Donald Wyman’ and ‘Harvest Gold’ are trees with persistent fruit, most birds to not eat these fruits either.

The information was gathered from the NDSU Yard and Garden Report. November 1, 2015


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