Western Mountains and High Plains

December, 2006
Regional Report

Keep Raking Leaves

Continue to rake and clean up heavy accumulations of leaves in the lawn and over flower beds. Accumulations of more than 3 inches can smother plants by blocking air and water to the crown and root system. Leaves blow in from surrounding areas and should be removed if they cover areas too heavily. Place extras in the compost pile or chop and till into the soil.

Provide Extra Protection to Sprinkler Boxes

Cut a piece of fiberglass insulation to fit into sprinkler valve boxes. This will cover the valves and provide some extra protection from alternate thawing and freezing. It also keeps the valves clean and free of dirt and dust accumulations.

Prevent Gnat Invasion

To reduce the occurrence of fungus gnats around houseplants, keep the potting soil surface clean of plant debris. Gnats like to live and breed in organic matter. Also, to keep the soil tidy, spread a light layer of pea or aquarium gravel on the top of the potting mix to improve air circulation and help retain soil moisture.

Clean Bird Feeders

If you haven't already cleaned up the bird feeders and birdbaths, get to it now. Use a 10 percent liquid chlorine bleach solution and some dishwashing liquid and scrub them down. This will get rid of any diseases and parasites that may be lurking.

Decorate Outdoor Planters

Containers that can spend the winter outdoors can hold seasonal decorations. Use prunings from evergreens, pinecones, branches of berries, and other natural materials to accent the patio, front porch, and deck. Add some outdoor lights to highlight these containers and add a festive touch.

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