There are two main types of weeds: perennial weeds, which come back from the same root every year, and annual weeds, which sprout in spring from seeds that a plant set before it died completely the previous season. Winter isn’t really the time for managing perennial weeds, unless your ground isn’t frozen and you’re jonesing to do some gardening, but you can do some things to manage annual weeds. The main thing is to let the birds take care of them! Seed-eating birds are, of course, really hungry during winter, and actively forage for anything they can find. As long as there’s no snow on the ground, they’ll be hopping around your yard and finding those weed seeds. Plus, the freeze-thaw cycle that happens in cold climates heaves buried seed to the surface, allowing them to consume even more. While I generally am not a big one for pesticide use, I have found that pre-emergents are really effective, especially in hard-to-weed beds, so come spring, you can also put those down for anything the birds didn’t take care of.
This is a great question, because it addresses a big issue, namely, that plant tags are the same across the country, even though growing conditions aren’t. As such, they have to specify growing instructions for a wide range of conditions ion very little space. The tag for all of our panicle hydrangeas indicates both sun and part shade, and the hotter your climate, the more important part shade becomes. But in cool and even mild climates like yours in middle TN, panicle hydrangeas can generally take full sun if they get sufficient water. So, in your case, I’d say if you have an irrigation system that provides water to these plants and can put down a good 2-3″ layer of shredded bark mulch, they are likely to be just fine there. If you don’t have irrigation, I’d recommend moving them this spring – the ideal time to move panicle hydrangeas is while they are still dormant in late winter or early spring.
Conifers like pines, spruces, and fir can easily take heavy snow loads. However, other trees and shrubs may suffer and become disfigured or even lose major limbs. If it is safe to do so, then, it’s not a bad idea to clear off your plants. I recommend using a broom to brush the snow off – this is more gentle than your hands, and helps you keep a safe distance from the falling snow. Personally, I’ve had a head full of snow from doing this one too many times to do it any other way! Very heavy, wet snows like we had here in Michigan on Halloween this year are the most dangerous but unfortunately the hardest to remove. However, any time there is a risk that the snow will turn to ice is when you should prioritize snow removal from the plants themselves.
In this episode, we’re joined by Debra Knapke, The Garden Sage. While Debra is an expert on a variety of horticultural topics, one of her areas of special interest is herbs, teas, and herbal tisanes. Listen in on your favorite podcast platform or on the YouTube link above to hear our entire conversation, including helpful tips about harvesting herbs to make your own herbal tisane.