Kevin Marini, Home Horticulture Education Specialist, UCCE Placer/Nevada Counties provides expert advice on how to give your garden some TLC throughout winter.
Placer County spans a large geographical area that has low to high elevations with plenty of microclimates sprinkled in between. There are gardeners in lower elevations who garden year-round and there are gardeners in higher elevations who put their garden to sleep as winter approaches. Regardless of where you live in Placer County, there are some things that ALL gardeners can do as winter sets in.
COMPOST YOUR LEAVES. Winter is a great time to collect fallen leaves from your lawn or sidewalk to make a compost pile. If you think it’s too cold to compost, think again! With the right mix of materials, you can hot compost all winter long even with snow on the ground. Contact the Placer County ROTLINE at (530) 889-7399 for information on how to compost.
OBSERVE DRAINAGE PATTERNS. Once it begins to rain, take the time to observe your own little personal watershed and see how water drains in and around your yard and garden. This is VERY important where we live since many of us have slow draining clay soils. Identifying areas that drain well and that do not can dictate what and where to plant certain plants.
SPREAD MULCH. Arborist wood chips are a great resource for gardeners and in our area. They are usually easy to get from local tree companies. Winter is the time of year when trees are pruned around power lines and cut up and chipped when they topple over from fall/winter storms. Spreading these wood chips around your garden will help reduce soil erosion and compaction, improve your soil over time and help suppress weed seeds from germinating as soil temperatures rise going into spring.
IRRIGATE YOUR LANDSCAPE. Depending on where you live, keep updated about frost warnings and drain your irrigation lines before freezing temperatures occur to prevent broken pipes. Conversely, during periods of extended drought, you may have to give some water to your plants. If you collect rainwater, inspect your system routinely to be sure it is working properly.
MAINTAIN YOUR GARDEN. Pick up rotting fruit and diseased leaves underneath fruit trees and compost or dispose of them. Consider dormant sprays and structural pruning for fruit trees, deciduous shrubs and trees.
For more information, contact the UC Placer County Master Gardeners by phone, in person or online.
Placer County Master Gardener: (530) 889-7388
Bring samples to our office located at DeWitt Center, 11477 E Ave. Auburn, CA or submit a question online at pcmg.ucanr.org