New England

November, 2011
Regional Report

Protect Tender Roses

Mid to late November after plants are completely dormant and the ground is frozen is the time to add protection to hybrid tea and grandiflora roses. Cover the crown of the plant about a foot deep with a loose mulch of wood chips or light-textured soil brought in from another part of the garden. Hardier shrub or landscape roses won't need this extra protection.

Plan Ahead for a Living Christmas Tree

If you are planning on buying a living Christmas tree to plant outside after the holidays are over, dig and prepare the planting hole now before the ground freezes. Once you've dug the hole, place the soil from the hole in a nonfreezing garage or basement. Cover the hole with a board to keep out snow and to prevent someone stumbling in it by accident. Keep your tree inside for no more than 3- 5 days to prevent it from breaking dormancy, which would make it susceptible to cold injury when it goes back outside. When you're ready to plant, water the rootball of the tree well before placing it in the hole, cover with soil up to where the roots flare out at the base of the trunk, and water again.

Move Houseplants to Better Light

Houseplants that spent the summer happily in a northern or eastern exposure may benefit from a move to a sunnier exposure during the the short, dark days of winter. Also consider moving plants closer to windows for better light, but don't place them so close that the foliage rests against the cold glass panes. Make sure windows are clean to let in maximum light.

Get the Lawn Ready for Winter

Keep mowing your lawn as long as the grass continues to grow, but gradually decrease the mowing height. Make your final cut at 1 1/2 inches. This helps to keep the grass from becoming matted and developing snow mold over the winter. Research shows that fertilizing late in the fall does not significantly help lawn grasses and contributes to pollution in runoff. But lime, if needed, can be spread any time the soil is not frozen.

Build a Compost Pile

Fall is a great time to construct a compost pile using all the plant material removed from gardens at the end of the season along with fall leaves. Make the pile at least three feet square, alternating layers of "browns" (fallen leaves, straw, dried garden debris) with "greens" (fresh grass clippings, fresh garden trimmings, fruit and vegetable scraps), moistening each layer as you go. Decomposition will be slow over the winter but will speed up once the weather warms again in the spring.

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