The official start of the holiday season is days away. Finish the last important outdoor chores, including putting up the holiday lights. Take a deep breath and vow to enjoy the busy month ahead — no matter how many relatives are coming to visit.
General outside to-dos
Cool season turf grass like Kentucky bluegrass greatly benefits from a final fertilization before going dormant for the season. Nitrogen helps the root system and aids greening-up in the spring. Apply while the lawn is still green and moist so there is good absorption. Water a day or two before application if it’s been dry — and preferably right before a storm so the fertilizer gets watered in.
Prepare the lawn mower for winter storage. Use up all the gas to prevent damage to the carburetor. Disconnect the spark plug. Clean the underside with a putty knife or wire brush and sharpen the blade before storing for the winter. The oil can be drained and changed now or early next spring.
Protect new plantings and tender roses after several hard freezes by applying a couple of inches of shredded bark or well-draining soil or compost around the base of the plant.
Spring bulbs and garlic planting seed are still available in garden centers and can be planted until the ground freezes.
Gather up outdated garden and home chemicals and properly dispose of them through your municipality’s hazardous waste program. In Denver, call 311 to arrange a low-cost, once yearly home pick up.
Styles of outdoor holiday lighting vary from house to house — which you know if you live near a Clark Griswold.
When it comes to outside decorating, opt for lights, extension cords, timers and power strips that are rated for outdoor use. Use safety precautions working on ladders, roofs and around electricity.
If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, hire licensed tree companies to hang outdoor lights. They get busy, so call early to get scheduled.
LED lighting uses about 10 percent of the energy incandescent lighting, and the newest LED lights are truer to white — no more bluish cast. Up-front costs may be higher, but their years of use will pay off in savings. It’s best not to mix old with the newest lights if you’re picky about consistency.
City of Denver recently announced their holiday light recycling program, which will run through Jan. 15. Collect your outdated, burned out or jumbled mass of incandescent, LED and icicle lights, plus power and electric cords and other novelty lights (but not neon or liquid-filled bubble lights). Do not place your old lights in purple bins. Remove all packaging materials and take them to the Cherry Creek recycling drop-off near the intersection of S. Quebec St. and E. Cherry Creek South Drive. Info at denvergov.org.
Try to use only three strands of lights plugged together — otherwise the system may get overloaded or cause outages.
If only Clark had access to the specially designed outdoor mounting clips that support long stretches of lights and corners. Or easy-to-place net lighting for shrubs and hedges and icicle, snowflake or other whimsical hanging lights. There are single-strand lights for columns or creating spirals. Look for rope lighting and pre-lit cordless wreaths, swags and container fillers.
Use care when placing lights on trees and branches. It’s usually not the lighting that causes injury to a plant; it’s the pulling or yanking of limbs while decorating or removing. Don’t wrap branches too tightly — you might cut off nutrients. Keep in mind that loose wrapping can get blown away in a storm.
Always take down lighting on outdoor plants after the holiday season. If left in place long term, strands may girdle or cut in to the trunk or branch, causing harm to the tree.
Betty Cahill, Special to The Denver PostThis large urn is overflowing with pine, blue spruce and fir branches, plus winterberry and pine cones.
Critters have been known to cause damage when they chew on outdoor lighting. They are most likely mistaking small lights for nuts, or wire for branches. Maybe they just don’t like the holidays! Try liquid natural sprays that contain citrus or pepper in the area or on the light strings before wrapping the trees.
Garden centers and grocery stores sell fresh wreaths and bundles of assorted greenery. For free greens, check Christmas tree lots for leftover boughs they’ve cut to shape the tree. Use these to decorate outdoor empty containers. Complete the look with vertical cut branches, dried flowers (from your landscape), red berries, pinecones or shiny ornaments. Add lighting to the container for more festive outdoor interest. For more outdoor container ideas: dpo.st/outdoorwintercontainers
A dusty snow shovel is a good clue that your landscape may need some water. Long stretches without adequate moisture in the fall going in to winter can cause plants and tree root systems to suffer injury or die. No matter what their age, give trees, shrubs and all new plantings (including bulbs) a deep drink of water.
Check for dryness by inserting a screwdriver in the soil, mulch and lawn areas. Water if it won’t go down easily. Shady areas may be frozen, so no need to water.
Keep notes to deeply water all landscape trees, including evergreens, at least once a month from November through next spring if we haven’t had adequate moisture from storms. No need to water when there’s snow cover, though.
If hoses are a challenge to set up and move, ask a friend, neighbor or relative for assistance, or be proactive and help a neighbor.
Water mid-day when it is 40 degrees or warmer, and finish before the sun goes down so it can soak in well.
Disconnect and drain hoses after watering. Keep them handy for the next time....Read more