While the rest of the country sees white, it’s all green and sunshine here! Winter in the desert may be milder than the rest of the country, but there are still important steps to take to prepare for the coldest part of the year.
For your existing plants, the mild temperatures make it an ideal time to get some yard work done. A neat and tidy yard is a great way to make those winter cookouts and get togethers even more enjoyable. Keeping your property clean also helps your home’s value. You should also plan to fix anything that may have broken during these cooler months to save you from next summer’s heat.
Blue open skies and enjoyable temperatures make winter in Tucson the ideal time to get outside. It’s our reward for a summer spent overheating or in A/C! Take advantage of the weather with some quality time spent on your own backyard.
Start from the top and work your way down for an easier cleaning process. December through February is the best time to prune and clear broken tree limbs as the tree enters dormancy; although for plants that are extra sensitive to cold, major trimming can leave them exposed and susceptible to potential frost damage. Trim bushes or other foliage, clear weeds, and mow your lawn, if you even have grass! Move tender potted plants to sunnier locations or in protected spots under porches, eaves or tree canopies depending on their sun requirement.
To make the most of a winter garden, plant in an area that has plenty of morning sunshine and six to eight hours of exposure total. Adding mulch is an effective way to preserve moisture, regulate soil temperature and control weeds. Winter is best for planting artichokes, arugula, Asian-greens, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, collards, endive, garlic, potatoes, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, onions/leeks, peas, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, swiss chard, tomatoes and turnips.
When temperatures are expected to be in the lower-20’s or the teens, tuck plants in for the night with a light layer, like old sheets, to prevent frost damage. Don’t water cacti and succulents before frosts.
Don’t forget to spend a moment tending to your pipes! Any above-ground, exposed water pipes should be wrapped in insulation to prevent them from freezing at night. If you’ve done this in previous years, revisit your handy work and make sure it is still ready to go. For underground irrigation systems, consult the manual on best winterization practices. Outdoor hoses should be drained and stored indoors at night.