Mountain West Regional Reports

Mountain West: January Garden To-Do List

winter garden
Evaluating your garden when it is bare or covered in snow gives you a greater perspective on its form and structure. Photo: Michelle Provaznik

Enjoy the winter landscape. While providing natural insulation, a blanket of snow creates the perfect canvas to highlight the “bones” of your landscape—its structure, form, and textures. Our woody trees and shrubs provide the backbone, evergreens create a bold stroke of color and form, and ornamental grasses bring soft movement to the garden. Get outside and notice the details—the color of bark, the seed heads clinging to a branch, the animal tracks in the snow. Also, notice if there is a bare spot that needs just a little something that can be planted when the weather warms.

seed catalogs
Looking through seed catalogs will jump-start your brainstorming for the upcoming gardening season. Photo: Michelle Provaznik

Find inspiration while perusing new seed catalogs. I get so excited when the seed catalogs start arriving just after Christmas. They are the inspiration I need to start dreaming about the upcoming gardening season. Beautiful photos and illustrations, new varieties among my favorite tried and trues, garden tips, and heartwarming stories help me kick off the New Year right. Dog-ear pages and make lists of plants you want to try.

tree wraps
Make sure snowstorms and windstorms haven’t disrupted any winter protection you may have in place. Photo: Michelle Provaznik

Ensure that winter protection is still in place. Snowstorms and gale-force winds can play havoc with your winter protection. Now is a good time to walk the garden and check on tree-trunk wraps, frost-protection blankets, etc., and make any repairs needed. Add mulch to any areas where mulch has blown away. Use snow removed from driveways and patios to provide extra protection to perennials and shrubs.

overwintering plants
Ensure that your houseplants are in good order after having spent the first part of the winter inside. Photo: Kristin Green

Check in on your houseplants. I move my small houseplants inside each fall, carefully checking for any insects or other issues before placing them around the house. Now that they have been inside for two or three months, it’s a good time to evaluate them again. I check to see if any have roots growing out the bottom or are drying out too quickly, both of which can mean it’s time to move a plant to a larger container. Look for insects; spider mites are particularly happy in our low-humidity climate. I either take the plant to the sink for a good shower, or I use a damp paper towel to wipe off the insects, webs, and dust that collect on the leaves.

garden design
Start making calls now if you’re considering having professional work done on your yard in the spring. Photo: Chris Schlenker

Contact contractors now. If you have been thinking about a new landscape design or having someone else tackle a landscaping project in your yard, now is the time to reach out to contractors. It is easier to get multiple bids for projects and get on contractors’ schedules in the slow season. Once spring hits, they get really busy and book months out in no time.

—Michelle Provaznik is executive director of the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins, Colorado.

View Comments


  1. User avater
    SarahCullen 01/24/2020

    Thanks for sharing this information!

  2. Sasha_HMS 01/24/2020

    "If you have been thinking about a new landscape design...".
    You will have to figure out a shade map.
    But matching a plant to a place with the right amount of sun can be tricky! The amount of sun varies by time of day, and season, so most people just guesstimate.
    But you don't need to guess any more!
    A new app in the Google Play Store tells you exactly how much sun or shade any place will get.
    Try it out. Share with your friends! Give feedback!
    click here: SASHA
    Amazingly, this app even works in the winter, when the foliage is gone -- in the menu, select "simulate foliage"!
    Each reading takes a minute or so. Make yourself a grid, and you can have a shade map in no time at all!
    Have Fun!.

  3. User avater
    AnnaMartinez 02/08/2020

    Thanks for sharing this article!

  4. User avater
    RonaldTague 02/27/2020

    I like this Article

  5. User avater
    devinkoblas 03/25/2020

    Thanks! Its really very helpful information

  6. User avater
    devinkoblas 03/25/2020

    Thanks! It's really very helpful information

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