Wintertime gardening chores

By A Contributor

These winter temperature swings are creating some fine opportunities to work in the garden and I now have winter garden fever. If this keeps up, it looks like I might be in for a milder case of spring fever.

Pruning is the typical dormant season chore. One can start pruning fruit and ornamental plants. Extension has many resources to provide best pruning practices. Those are available as publications and videos obtainable at

I didn’t get the memo on this year’s winter weather. It is suppose to be cold and snowy. My workshop on pruning fruit trees isn’t until March 3 at 1 pm at the UFM building located at 1221 Thurston St. The ornamental pruning workshop is schedule for March 10 at the KSU Gardens. It is anyone’s guess what the weather will be like on those days.

Removal of unwanted woody plants is the pruning that I’m engaged in at this time. Safety is the most important knowledge to have when removing large plants. I prefer to stick with small plants that a handsaw will cut down. That size of plant will typically sprout if not treated with triclopyr or glyphosate. Read and follow herbicide label directions.

Felling a good size tree takes knowledge and practice. I suggest using a certified arborist to have it done. The medium size tree I needed taken down wasn’t near anything it could damage. My teenage son was willing to chop it down. Sometimes you have to take advantage of a situation. I would have used the chainsaw.

The tree came down safely after many swings with an axe. We were hoping to fell it to the north but we could tell that it was more likely going south. Either way was okay. It was just further to carry limbs.

Felling a tree is risky business. There is a publication to learn how it is suppose to be done. Get help if you need it. You won’t want to be sidelined once spring fever hits.

If you would like additional information on a horticulture topic, please contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension. Gregg may be contacted by calling 537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail: and at

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