What to do, what not to do in a thaw

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Gardeners can get goofy in a winter thaw... 

Green Thumbs up...

...to playing it smart during winter thaws:

  • Do pile whatever snow is left on the soil of container gardens, or under broadleaf evergreens. It will protect roots from the big, fast shift in temperature that comes at sundown of a warm winter day. As it melts, it can help an evergreen replace the moisture it loses to photosynthesis and pores opened to warm air.
  • Do shade the south and west side of the trunks of thin-barked trees such as Japanese maple and mountain ash.
  • Do put water out in shallow trays (low-rise baking pans work). Watch how many thirsty birds show up.
  • Do clip a few evergreen boughs so you can pull the Yuletide decorations out of that wreath on your door and fill with fresh green.
  • Do apply a new coat of anti-desiccant to broadleaf evergreens that are exposed to the wind. Ask yourself as you do, "Are these plants really so essential in this spot or can I move them to a more protected place and eliminate the extra work of protecting them?"
  • Do take a drive through the neighborhood to see what looks good right now in others' yards. Plan to replace those badly sited broadleaf evergreens of yours with something less needy from the resulting list.

Green Thumbs down...

...to letting a thaw cloud your brain. Don't create more work and trouble later:

  • Don't walk on wet, cold beds. If you must, protect the soil, so vulnerable now to the kind of compaction that's very hard to fix later. Spread your weight wide by laying down planks or bundled newspaper to walk on. Snowshoes work, too!
  • Don't look at what clueless non-gardener neighbors may have done to their side of your hedges or bushes. You can't fix it now. It will wait. Don't give yourself such things to stew about.