Pacific Northwest

November, 2003
Regional Report

Winterize Sprinkler Systems

Automatic sprinkler and drip irrigation tubes should be winterized before really cold weather sets in. Start by draining the system to prevent frost damage to the above-ground vacuum breaker and sprinkler heads. For added protection, I blow out the lines and drip irrigation tubes with an air compressor to eliminate standing water in the lines.

Keep Indoor Plants Happy and Healthy

Keep your indoor plants away from trouble spots, such as entry doors, drafty corridors, fireplaces, or heating vents. Temperature fluctuations also can cause houseplants to develop yellow leaves, and sudden leaf drop will follow. Forced air heat will dry out plants rapidly and often cause browning of leaf margins.

Protect Evergreens

Use evergreen boughs to protect sensitive, semi-hardy shrubs, such as hydrangeas and azaleas. This will help buffer the temperature fluctuations and prevent winter sun damage. You can even stick the cut ends of boughs into the soil around the plants to collect snow. This added insulation will further protect the plants.

Plant the Last Bulbs

If you've forgotten to plant spring-flowering bulbs, you still have a chance to get them into the ground. After digging the planting site, add a generous amount of compost and sprinkle a granular 5-10-5 fertilizer before planting the bulbs. Place bulbs at the proper depths, cover, and water them in thoroughly.

Turn Over the Soil

Spade or till your annual flower and vegetable beds to expose insects and their eggs. The rough, lumpy clods will weather down during the winter months, leaving the soil softer for spring planting. If you have a source of cow or horse manure, add a generous amount (3 to 4 inches deep) to beds before turning.

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