Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time

Central Texas Winter Gardening Tips

Most people who garden for passion or exercise are always looking for a winter project, but whether you’re an average gardener or a nut job like me who can’t wait until spring, your plants will benefit from you being on pause.

Here are my top 5 reasons to let your plants relax over the winter and you could chill too.

Leave the Leaves

Unless you have hard, Live Oak leaves which take forever to break down, you should leave most of the dried leaves in your beds and simply mulch over them making sure to expose tree and plant roots from suffocation. 

Wait Until Spring to Cut Back Your Plants

Wait until after the last frost then check for green before you trim. Scratch the surface of your woody plants to test for life. Keep heading up the stem until you see yellow or brown and cut back at that level after the last frost. This prevents unnecessary cut back.

Watch for new growth

Once you see the telltale signs of your re-emerging babies in early spring, cut back the brown and throw it in your composter or compost bags that are picked up by the City of Austin. Over the winter months, this brown cover protects your replant roots until warmer weather, so leave them be.

Wildlife Is Counting on The Shelter

Don’t remove winter protection too soon because lizards, bees, bug and insect eggs are holding over here and the debris protects the roots of the plants in heavy freeze.

Search for Problem Weeds and Junk Trees

Above, the green patch in the lawn is POA weed and needs to be removed as it appears. You can faintly see the seed head on this small patch and it becomes a monster quickly. Educate yourself on the weeds you see and use the free phone apps to learn the good guys from the bad ones.

Look for uninvited plants and trees over the winter that should be removed before the next growth period. 

Free Food for Wildlife!

Lastly, the seedpods left behind on dried winter plants feed birds and wildlife who provide a show in return. 

Top 5 Things You Can/Should Do Over the Winter

Watch and address the water patterns.

Address your drainage issues and be sure to keep the runoff going in the same direction as the existing grade. French drains and gutters are a great winter project.

Check the Mulch Level on Your Trees

This is an example of what your berm or tree ring should NOT look like. All tree rings on mature trees should be completely flat and away from the trunk allowing the bell shape at the base to be clearly seen. 

Mulch rings around mature trees should be perfectly flat and allow the base of the tree trunk to expand .

Create New Beds for Spring!

Prepare new beds or remove sick or dying trees, shrubs or plants that have been more work than pleasure. Give yourself a clean slate for the spring. 

Winter Is a Great Time for Hardscapes

Winter is a great time to install hardscapes such as patio, pool and stones or metal. 

Limestone patio, river rock sidewalk

Dry creek beds can add both feature and function and they’re great winter projects for Central Texas. Above, the river rock will serve as a new sidewalk along the driveway and below, the rock will serve as drainage. 

Dry creek beds

Plant Trees, Roses and Berries.

Winter is a great time for trees, roses, berry bushes and for preparation of spring veggie beds. 

Peggy Martin Rose

Thornless Blackberry

Check the Welfare of Your Shrubs and Plants

Trim trees, shrubs and plants that have broken or down facing limbs.

In conclusion, there is something to do all year in the Central Texas garden, but the important take away is to know when the proper timing is most effective. 

Embrace the winter garden for its seeds, structure and diversity of wildlife. Sit back and restore your energy for spring planting or choose the cool weather for some rock work and preparation. Either way, spring will come when it’s ready and there will be plenty to do then. 

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape & Design 

“Saving the Planet One yard at a Time”


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