Three Outdoor Chores Worth Doing in the Winter

your outdoor space might be the last thing on your mind during the winter; however, it's a great time of the year to tackle outdoor projects and take care of essential maintenance. Without foliage to navigate or high temperatures causing you to break a sweat, the dormant season offers homeowners a unique window of time to get things done.

To learn more about what the pros recommend prioritizing during the winter months, we connected with Blake Watkins, Operations Partner at Monster Tree Service and ISA Board Certified Master Arborist.

1. Prioritize Tree Pruning

"Many trees are best pruned in the winter when the tree is bare. In general, it's less stressful for the tree and will help the tree best utilize its energy for summer," shares Watkins, adding "Sensitive tree species like Oaks are good to prune in winter to avoid the stress of removing leaves.

Whether you're curating an orchard or want a studly hedge row to block the line of sight from the neighbors, winter is your time to take action. "Hedges and fruit trees are also good candidates for winter pruning," recommends Watkins. "Hedges can be rejuvenated by hard pruning, which is especially important if they are needed for screening or privacy."

Schedule pruning before the leaves are on the trees.<p>Emily Fazio</p>
Schedule pruning before the leaves are on the trees.

Emily Fazio

2. Planting–When the Ground Isn't Frozen

Zones 7 to 13, we're looking at you. "Planting isn’t just for the spring—it can be done any time in the winter as long as the ground isn’t frozen," shares Watkins. "Getting your trees and plants in early lets them establish some new roots before the summer heat."

3. Mulching

"Mulching can be done at any point in the year, but winter mulching is an easy way to improve tree health as it can protect the roots from harsh winter winds and repeated freezing and thawing," shares Watkins.

He adds, "The right amount of mulch is important but it's essential that the trunk is kept free of mulch so it can stay dry. Mulch your young trees now, aiming for a layer of mulch that's 3” deep. Keep a distance of 3” from the base of the trunk to allow for good airflow."

Related: Winter is the Best Time For a Tree Evaluation—Assess For Damage and Disease Today

Other Landscaping Chores to Get a Jump-Start on Spring

  • Planning and designing new landscaping layouts. Use the quiet, cold season to plan new garden beds, design landscaping projects, and research plants.

  • Installing hardscape elements like patios, walkways, or retaining walls (again, if the ground isn't frozen!). Outdoor labor is much more enjoyable during cooler temperatures.

  • Cleaning and maintaining garden tools and equipment for optimal performance

  • Checking and repairing irrigation systems to prevent freezing or leaks

  • Winterizing outdoor structures such as gazebos, pergolas, or garden sheds

  • Taking inventory of outdoor plants and making notes for future maintenance or replacement