Outer Banks Winter Landscaping
It’s winter. There’s nothing to do but grab a cup of hot coffee, throw on a hoodie, sit on your deck and be happy that you have no landscaping work until Spring. Wrong-O! There are still a few things you should have on your “honey do” list before the arrival of the warm weather in March and April. That is if you want to have the best yard in the neighborhood. And I suspect, there’s something in each one of us that secretly wants that.
I live in Manteo on a short dead-end street of only nine houses. I decided that this year I would have the best-looking yard since the competition isn’t very high (four of the nine houses are only part-time residents).
So I went to the person who I think has the best Outer Banks landscaping. He also just happens to be my brother Todd, the owner of SPM Landscaping. Todd has owned the company for the past 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge of what to do and when to do it to maintain a picture-perfect yard.
In preparation for this article, I went to friends of mine, other homeowners to find out what their typical issues might be. The overwhelming response was the number of sand spurs in their yards.
“The sand spur is actually the seed of the grass, and January and February is the best time to start eliminating these. There’s a product called Balan, it’s a granular that should be put down.” Todd said.
Balan incidentally can be found at places like Ace Hardware and you put it down with a spreader, like you would if you were fertilizing your yard.
Todd continues. “If you have a lot of sand spurs, this could be a 3-year process. The first year you will eliminate 80% of the spurs, and the ensuing two years would take care of the remaining.”
Since the spur, or the seed, is not a perennial, Balan keeps the seed from coming back each year.
As Todd explains, “in essence you’re putting a blanket on the ground to keep the seed from germinating.”
I wondered if this could be done in either December or March, but apparently, it can’t. “If you get into March, you’re too late,” Todd explains. “December is too early because the ground temperature is too warm.”
Ok. Balan will go down. That will take, what? 40, 45 minutes? Surely I’m done for the winter now! Wrong-O again.
According to Todd, January and February is also the perfect time to cut back your ornamental grasses.
“Your pampas, miscanthus, and lyrocampas grasses should be cut back to allow for new fresh growth in the spring. It’s also a good time to cut back your lantanas and other perennials.
You want to do this no later than early February to ensure that there is no new growth or you’ll damage the tips of the plants.”
Ok. Balan goes down. Ornamental grasses and perennials cut back. Now I’m done. Right? Of course not! Still more to do. But I think you knew that already.
“Once a year, you’ll also want to cut back your weeping love grass. Cutting that back will allow fresh, green new growth. It also helps it spread out better too, and cuts the windburn off it.”
There are some additional random things to also consider with your Outer Banks landscaping. If you have a sprinkler system that utilizes a well pump, that will have to be drained prior to the freezing weather because the pump will freeze and crack. But winter is a good time to have sprinkler systems installed. The freeze line is only an inch deep, if that. Just don’t use it during the winter.
In the winter the grass becomes dormant, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still lay sod. It will just be dormant until spring. Go ahead and get it done.
Lastly, as you look ahead to the warm weather and the arrival of spring, it’s important to remember to not put down your fertilizer with a pre-emergent until at least Mid-March. Don’t be tempted and do it sooner.
So there you go! The winter is not the time to sit back and watch the grass not grow. There is still work to be done. In fact a good bit of work. I know I said I wanted to have the best yard on the street, but now that just seems like too much work. My neighbor Tom can have the honor. Time to get your Outer Banks landscaping on!
Greg Smrdel is the Editor for Coastal Life and is a little mad at the estimate he just received for yard work. No family discount?!?!
Greg Smrdel, while his physical body lives in Ohio (for now), his soul will always remain on the Outer Banks.