Keep your property in shape this winter | Living the Country Life

Keep your property in shape this winter

Just because it's cold out doesn't mean the work stops -- make sure to remember these winter tasks to keep up with your property.
  • Pruning trees in winter

    Trees are at their most vigorous growth point during the winter, which makes pruning them a brilliant idea since any cuts made will be sealed over much faster. There is also less of a risk of diesase and bug invasions.

    Be sure to cut carefully, still, and cut branches that are growing toward the tree's center, hazardous branches, and branches that are crossing and will eventually create a wound. If cutting fruit trees, be sure to prune before applying dormant sprays.

    Maple, birch, and walnut trees shouldn't be touched in winter since they'll ooze sap. They need to be pruned when they are fully leafed out. Evergreens also shouldn't be pruned until early summer because of their growth pattern. 

    Date Published: December 4, 2013
    Date Updated: April 25, 2014
  • Get the best de-icer for you

    One quality product, calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), is applied before a heavy snowfall and is able to prevent snowflakes from sticking to sidewalks and roads.

    Other products are intended to loosen the bond between ice and snow after the fact. Calcium chloride has the lowest melting point of de-icing chemicals and is able to melt ice down to a temperature of minus 25. Rock salt, or sodium chloride, is able to melt ice down to a temperature of about 20 degrees.

    Remember that over-applying these chemicals can result in burnt grass and pitted pavement, so don't go overboard to avoid slipping - use sand for that!

    Date Published: December 4, 2013
    Date Updated: April 25, 2014
  • Pond snow removal

    Ice caps off aquatic ecosystems and makes it more difficult for nutrients, oxygen, and energy to get to fish and other creatures. Ponds with dense aquatic plant life in the summer are more likely to be affected by winterkill. 

    One of the ways you can help avoid a fish kill is to shovel off strips of snow on top of your pond. That way, sunlight can filter through the ice triggering plants to create oxygen. Try to keep one third of your pond free of snow cover. 

    Avoid trying to break the ice because it can send deathly shock waves into the pond's fish. Remember to not shovel off any snow unless the ice is four inches thick for your safety.

    Date Published: December 4, 2013
    Date Updated: April 25, 2014
  • Winter gardening tasks

    Take a minute and check on your perennials. As the moisture in the soil freezes and thaws it can actually push plants up out of the ground. Many perennials die because their roots freeze when outside of the soil during this process called heaving. If you see plants like these, give them some extra mulch or compost to help them insulate themselves.

    If temperatures hit 40 degrees during the season, hydrate evergreens with a few inches of water to get them through the cold winter. Remember not to shake snow off of their branches to avoid breakage.

    Grab a pitchfork and break through to the innermost warm layer of the compost pile. If able, remember to both add to your pile and keep turning it throughout the winter. 

    Make sure tree wrappings haven't come loose or fallen. Check for any trunk damage from hungry rabbits and deer. 

    Date Published: December 4, 2013
    Date Updated: April 25, 2014
  • Put up a snow fence

    Effective snow fences are made up of half-solid and half-open spaces. Wooden picket and plastic mesh fences are the best options, but plastic fences can be difficult since their end posts come loose more easily. 

    Don't make the mistake of putting the fence too close to the area you're trying to protect. The snow fence should be placed 15 to 20 times the height of the fence away from the road. A four foot fence, for instance, should be set up 60 to 100 feet away from the place being protected.

    Always place the fence on the up-wind side of the road, pasture, etc.

    Date Published: December 4, 2013
    Date Updated: April 25, 2014
  • Use a spreader to lay salt

    It's possible to use a pull-behind manure spreader to distribute rock salt, too! You can even attach a plow to the front of your tractor to plow and salt at the same time. Get a plastic hopper liner if planning to use the spreader every year, but otherwise just watch out for salt build-up and rust.

    If your spreader hopper is metal, make sure to rinse with water, dry it, and store it inside as soon as the salt is put down. Check agitators for larger chunks of salt, as well. 

    Also consider attachments for your spreader. Think about a special agitator, a cover for your spreader, or a remote control gate. 

    Date Published: December 4, 2013
    Date Updated: April 25, 2014

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