Gardeners are restless because January has been colder and wetter than expected. While it’s not too early to finish a few garden jobs despite the cold and dreary weather, others should be put off until the warmer weather arrives. Pollinators that overwinter in leaf litter and stems should be encouraged. Pollinators can use leaves and stems from previous seasons as habitat. Bees hibernating underground and moths and butterflies that overwinter on the leaves benefit greatly from leaves left on the ground. Most hibernating pollinators will be protected if you keep your leaves on the ground until temperatures rise above 50 degrees F for five consecutive days.
Bees that build their nests in stems may not emerge until the middle of June or later. It is better for the bees if the stems are left alone. Any bees nesting in the stems will emerge soon, and the old stems will decay.
When the soil is wet and the temps are cool, lawn wear and tear is increased. For a healthy lawn later this year, put off lawn care until the soil and grass have dried up.
When you want to get rid of last season’s stems before mid-June, locate a safe place to store them until the bees that might be nesting in them have a chance to emerge. You can compost these stems once summer arrives. Leave around 12 inches of stem standing while cutting stems back to provide nesting habitat for this summer’s bees.
The timing will differ from property to property and even within a single yard. A lawn that looks south dries out faster than one that faces north
A sloped region will also dry up faster since gravity will drive water down the slope, leaving the top of the slope dry.
The best circumstances for tree and shrub establishment are cool temperatures and spring rain. Planting dormant nursery stock, including bare-root, containerized, container-grown, and balled and burlapped plants, is ideal at this time of year.
It’s also a good time of year to make sure all of your other trees and bushes have enough mulch. All you need is a two- to three-inch layer of wood chips or bark mulch under the dripline of your plant. Just be careful not to lay mulch against the plant’s trunk. Between the trunk and the mulch, leave four inches.