Middle South

December, 2006
Regional Report

Protect Trees from Deer Damage

During the winter, hungry deer look for young, tender growth to eat. Often this means the branches of your new tree or shrub. To protect your plants in winter, wrap the tree or shrub with burlap or netting, covering the plant or at least extending the covering 5 to 6 feet high around the plant.

Drain Irrigation Systems

Drain the water out of any irrigation hoses so they won't crack during hard freezes. Temporary PVC pipes should be drained and stored in an unheated garage, shed, or basement. Rubber or vinyl hoses should be disconnected, drained, and hung up to be sure any excess water left in the hose drains out.

Keep Off the Grass

Avoid walking on frozen grass. Without the protection of snow, grass blades are easily broken, causing dieback in your lawn that will show up next spring. Put up flagging or stakes in sensitive areas to keep visitors on the path.

Continue Composting

Continue adding prunings and vegetable scraps to your compost pile throughout the winter. Although the composting process slows down in cold weather, it will pick up again when the weather warms in the spring. Cover the pile loosely with a tarp to prevent it from getting soggy.

Control Spider Mites on Houseplants

Many houseplants, including palms and cyclamen, are attacked by spider mites this time of year. To scout for these pests, mist the plants lightly; if mites are present, the water droplets will cling to the mites' fine webbing. Spider mites are microscopic creatures that suck plant juices, causing the leaves to look speckled or silvery. Control them by misting plants daily to keep the humidity high (spider mites love dryness) and by spraying plants with insecticidal soap.

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