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Spring Landscape Tips for This Winter

(ARA) – Preparations for spring landscaping vary depending on where you live, but no matter where you are, there are a few things to do before spring arrives. Here are a few tips from the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to keep the cooped up gardener happy.

In the Southwest, for instance, where it gets up to 75 degrees F in January and spring sets in from March to April, winter flowers — like winter pansies — start to die off and should be replaced with summer flowers. It’s important to choose the right variety of flower, as the heat in the summer will destroy varieties that aren’t heat tolerant.

The eager gardener can begin pruning on certain types of plants. ‘Winter pruning can be done, but only prune prior to leaves coming out and only on plants that don’t flower in the spring,’ says Jan Marshall, vice president and co-owner of Arcadia Landscape in Tucson, Ariz., and NAWIC member. ‘For flowering plants like bougainvillea, wait until it leafs out to see what is still alive before pruning, especially if it will freeze again. More of the plant will die back and you’ll have to prune again once it’s begun growing.’ If you decide to put in new plants or prune early, lay frost cloth over them until they’re strong enough or it gets warmer.

Keeping a green lawn in the southwest territory depends on what’s planted and whether your watering schedule will keep it alive. ‘A good Bermuda grass that can tolerate heat in the summer, goes dormant in the winter,’ says Marshall. ‘Then, plant winter rye grass to get you through the cold months.’ Adjust your irrigation system to water according to temperature and rainfall, and you’ll have a healthy and beautiful lawn all year long.

Another element for a healthy landscape is fertilization. As always, the type of fertilizer you use depends on what type of plant material you’re feeding and be sure to correspond plant feeding with spring rains. Many fertilizers need lots of water to get to the plant or will otherwise break down in the soil. Pre-spring is also a good time to put down a pre-emergent for weed control.

If conservation is on your mind and you’d rather not have to water all the time to keep your lawn lush, healthy and weed free, consider installing the wave of the future, artificial turf. Becoming more and more popular in California, artificial turf requires no watering, cutting or maintenance and stays green permanently. As Marshall describes, ‘One woman’s dog had allergies to grass, so she installed artificial turf so he could enjoy the outdoors.’ At six to 10 dollars per square foot, it may be just the thing you need to enjoy your yard without the yard work.

For other areas of the country, like the Midwest, that have severe cold temperatures through the winter months, waiting with patience is all you can do until spring. After that, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the spring thaw.

If the ground is not yet frozen, you can put in new plants. Roots will still grow until the ground freezes. If you have access to the soil, test the pH. If your soil is too acidic it prevents the plants from responding to fertilizer. For high acidity, add lime to your soil. Test and reapply every three years. Winter pruning works well in the cold zones, but again, only before leaves appear and not if the plant is a spring bloomer, like Lilacs. For those, hold off on pruning until after they’ve bloomed.

‘A few other winter gardening tips take place indoors,’ says Terry Zywicki, landscape designer for Naylor Landscape Management in Michigan and NAWIC member. ‘Order seeds for starting seedlings, which can be planted indoors in March so they are ready to move outside when it warms up. And if you want to do some new landscape design, now is the time to book some time with a design consultant. Gather pictures of last year’s garden and drawings of how you’d like it to be; get some ideas on paper so you’re ready to go in the spring.’

As a NAWIC member for six years, Jan Marshall had a long list of membership benefits for anyone in the industry, from landscapers, engineers and architects to construction site managers and laborers. These benefits include networking possibilities, employment opportunities, leadership training — for both management and employees. ‘You can be with other women, company owners, project managers and get the supportive camaraderie that’s so important for women in this type of business,’ says Marshall.

Founded in 1953 by 16 women working in the construction industry, NAWIC’s sole purpose is to be a support network for, and to develop the success of women in the construction industry. With membership numbers at more than 5,500 in 179 chapters in nearly every U.S. state, the organization continues to grow internationally and has affiliation agreements with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

To learn more about NAWIC, visit

Courtesy of ARA Content