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Landscaping - December's Gardening Tips from Pikes
Date Posted: Dec 01, 2005
 
At this time of year, gardening activities are often put on the back burner as we prepare for the holiday season. With all the hustle and bustle during the holidays, wouldn't it be nice to simplify your home decorating? Well, you can! Just turn to your landscape for decorating ideas and materials. From pine boughs to holly cuttings, you can "deck your halls" for the holiday season with nature's bounty.
  • Relieve holiday stress by doing a little yard work. Take advantage of any mild days and rake some leaves or dig in the dirt. Gardening provides enjoyment and a real sense of accomplishment. It is also a great way to burn off some extra calories from those holiday parties and family dinners.
  • If you haven't already done so, there is still time to plant spring blooming flower bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths in the garden. Make sure the bulbs are in good condition. They should feel firm to the touch. If they feel dry and hollow or soft and spongy, discard them.
  • Remember our feathered friends. As winter progresses, natural food sources will become scarce. Fill birdfeeders as needed and keep fresh water in bird baths.
  • Shrubs can be trimmed to maintain their shape, if necessary, but save major pruning jobs for later in the winter. Do not prune spring flowering trees and shrubs now or you will sacrifice some of the flower buds. For best results, prune spring flowering plants just after they finish blooming.
  • Red berries are the traditional complement to all your holiday decorating. Look for colorful berries on hollies, pyracantha, nandina, abelia, cotoneaster and hawthorn. These berries are a wild bird's favorite snack, but as a precautionary measure, keep berries out of the reach of young children and pets.
  • When selecting a cut Christmas tree, check for freshness. The tree should have a healthy green color and a noticeable evergreen fragrance. Run your hand along the length of the branch. If the needles hold fast and feel soft and pliable, the tree is fresh. Avoid dry trees that are shedding profusely or have browning, stiff or brittle needles.
  • To help with water absorption, cut off about an inch at the base of the trunk before putting your Christmas tree in the stand.
  • Be sure that the tree stand you use holds at least one gallon of water and keep it full at all times. If the base of the tree is allowed to dry out, resin will form along the cut portion, preventing the tree from absorbing water.
  • If you want a live tree that can be planted outdoors after the holidays, follow these simple steps: (1) Before bringing the tree indoors, acclimate it by putting it in an unheated garage or basement for a few days. After the holidays, follow this same procedure before moving the tree outdoors for planting. (2) For best results, live trees should remain indoors for no more than 5 to 7 days. (3) Moisten the root ball before putting the tree in a large container and keep it moist, but not in standing water, the entire time it remains in the house. (4) Don't place the live tree near any direct heat sources such as heating vents or fire places.
  • Place paperwhite narcissus bulbs in a shallow container filled with glass marbles, gravel or soil, then add enough water to cover just the base of the bulb. By staggering the planting times at two week intervals, you can have fragrant paperwhites blooming in your home all winter long.
If you want a live tree that can be planted outdoors after the holidays, follow these simple steps: (1) Before bringing the tree indoors, acclimate it by putting it in an unheated garage or basement for a few days. After the holidays, follow this same procedure before moving the tree outdoors for planting. (2) For best results, live trees should remain indoors for no more than 5 to 7 days. (3) Moisten the root ball before putting the tree in a large container and keep it moist, but not in standing water, the entire time it remains in the house. (4) Don't place the live tree near any direct heat sources such as heating vents or fire places. Place paperwhite narcissus bulbs in a shallow container filled with glass marbles, gravel or soil, then add enough water to cover just the base of the bulb. By staggering the planting times at two week intervals, you can have fragrant paperwhites blooming in your home all winter long.
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