The “Hard Yard”

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Wintery Lawn

You might think that you’re off the hook for yard work during the cold weather months. However, careful planning can launch you into your best lawn ever the following Spring! Grab a notebook and a pen, a cup of coffee and your boots! You’ll feel inspired to get to work (or hire someone else to get to work) after reading.

All You Need is Your Notebook. Are You Ready?

First things first, you’ll need to make a plan. Perhaps even be prepared to make a rough sketch of your space and decide what should go where. What zone are you in? If you live in Northern Virginia the zone ranges from 5a-8a. Zone 8a plants should be able to have a temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit whereas Zone 5a can handle a temperature as low as -20 degrees. It’s research time! Well, normally it’s research time, but we’ve taken care of that part for you.

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Zone 8a Options:

  1. Artichokes
  2. Asparagus
  3. Cardoon
  4. Prickly Pear
  5. Rhubarb
  6. Strawberries
  7. Amaryllis
  8. Bee Balm
  9. Beets
  10. Abelia
  11. Silver Fir Tree
Winter Vegetation

Zone 5a Options:

  1. White Fir
  2. Balsam Fir
  3. Dwarf Fir 
  4. Blue Noble Fir
  5. Maples
  6. Elders
  7. Yarrow 
  8. Achellia
  9. Berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
Photo Credit: Norbert Nagel

Pro-tip: Berry bushes and asparagus can take several years before you see a yield.

For your planning, think of the layout of your yard and mark your utilities. What areas get the most sun vs shade? By making these observations and planning around them, you’re setting yourself up for success for years to come. Now, look at the plants you liked the most (perhaps even out of the list provided above). What requires full sun? If you’re considering a tree or two, what sort of roots do they have? For instance, if you were considering a willow tree, they have shallow but far-reaching roots and are very hydrophilic. If you plant a willow in range (50-100ft) of a sewer system or water pipe, the roots will find them and potentially damage your system. Make sure when you’re planning your layout, to plant trees with extensive root systems far enough away from potential problem areas.

Photo Credit: Laureina Taing

Also as part of your planning process, consider the heights and longevity of each plant. If you’re choosing mostly perennials you’ll need to make sure that the plants won’t spread wide enough to choke each other out over the years, that you’ll be able to prune or separate them, and that the height differences will be attractive. 

Great Resource for Garden Planning

Once you have your plan, the next step is prep. Fertilize your lawn and beds. Aerate the lawn (as long as it’s not frozen). A big prep step, especially if you live somewhere that receives a hearty amount of snow, is to avoid salt damage. Also, continue to remove fallen branches and heavy, sodden leaves. The compaction of the earth can lead to a patchy lawn that won’t grow grass correctly. 

Photo Credit: Dennis Kellogg

Observe your lawn carefully to see if there are any low spots that collect water or have water running through them. Now is a great time to backfill and overseed low spots with a winter seed. Also, consider a french drain for water runoff. It’s an attractive solution to a soggy lawn and is a great way to reduce water-logged lawns and rain/snow damage. 


Let Virginia Lawn Service, Inc. Set You Up With French Drains to Prevent Standing Water.

Maintaining your equipment is extremely important. Get your equipment serviced, cleaned, and consider replacing broken or ineffective pieces. Look at your plan again, and determine if there is something else that you’re going to need. 


Equipment Maintenance is Very Important for Your Safety and the Longevity of Your Equipment.

As always, you’re welcome to call Virginia Lawn Service, Inc. for a free estimate and we’d be happy to look at your lawn maintenance needs. We can do it all, from removal of debris, aeration and seeding, garden bed planting and maintenance, up to and including french drain installation! We’d be happy to hear from you this season. January can be a “hard yard” but you don’t have to do it alone!


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