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Do these three simple jobs now, in your outdoor spaces


Carson Arthur

Carson Arthur

Its official, winter is on its way. Most of us have seen snow already and there is a decided chill in the air. Even though it may seem easier to stay indoors, NOW is the last chance for you to get a few things done to set you on the path to a great spring in your outdoor spaces.

When it comes to getting the outside ready for winter, here is my personal list of things I make sure that I get done at this time of the year

evergreen1. Wrap those evergreens! I received so many emails from fans and readers last spring about their cedars and boxwoods having brown sections. There are several things that cause this, but there is one solution that deals with a lot of the issues. Get out the burlap or anti-desiccant spray and cover your evergreens.

Plants like boxwoods, yews and cedars stay green all year (hence the name ‘evergreens’). These plants retain their chlorophyll in their leaves and needles. It’s this chlorophyll that works in producing energy and food for the plant. This process of photosynthesis also requires light and water. When we get bright sunny days in the winter and early spring, the plants start to make energy. Unfortunately, the ground is still frozen, preventing the roots from getting any water to the plant. This is what causes the brown sections…they are simply drying out. The burlap wrap slows down this process, allowing the tree to naturally keep up with the water supply.

2. Prune woody shrubs and trees now. Pruning at this time of the year, once the leaves have fallen, has been shown to be less stressful on the plant. The changing of leaf-colour signifies the movement of sap from the branches of the plant into the roots. The sap is what feeds the tree and helps promote growth. When the plants are dormant, they store all of their sap reserves in their roots. Come spring, these extra reserves promote lots of healthy new growth and significantly more blooms!

3. Empty out all of your outdoor planters. I had more split pots last winter then I’ve ever had before. A cold winter is hard on your planters; whether they are clay, plastic or even wood. The soil inside the pots is the problem. This soil retains moisture. As it freezes and thaws, the soil expands and contracts, splitting even the strongest containers. Instead of soil, fill your planters with mulch so that you can still create beautiful holiday arrangements at the front door. Then you can put the mulch in the garden come thaw.

I promise that these three simple jobs will not only make your spring to-do list easier, doing them will help to protect your outdoor investments.

-Landscape designer Carson Arthur is host of HGTV’s new Home to Win show. He is also the outdoor expert with City TV’s Cityline and wrote the sell-out book Garden Designs for Outdoor Living in 2015. More at
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