Winter can take a toll in the garden landscape

By Katie Swikard

Covington Water District

From erratic freezing temperatures, to snow and more snow, to driving rain storms, our gardens have been through it this past winter. A walk through your yard this spring will probably reveal plants with winter damage, dead limbs, no new growth and withered brown skeletons.

Consider this an opportunity to improve your landscape with green gardening methods. Thoughtful planning and a little research can add a spark of charisma to a garden coming out of the doldrums of a cold snowy winter.

Filling in the gaps caused by winter kill will be easier when you’re armed with these helpful ideas:

• Consider adding elements that can’t be killed by cold or drought. And what a bonus – they don’t need watering, fertilizing or pest control. Replace dead plants with a large urn for a focal point, sculpture, birdhouse mounted on an old ladder, grouping of large rocks, found objects as accents. Reuse items that once served another purpose – old windows as a trellis, a bowling ball turned into a gazing ball with metallic paint or tile samples turned into stepping stones. When we reuse materials that would otherwise be dumped into the landfill, our garden-making helps the environment.

• Where new growing spaces have opened up, consider adding edibles. You won’t worry about food-safety when you grow your own organic foods. Organic gardening keeps pesticides and herbicides out of our water ways as well.

Blueberry bushes add structure, brilliant fall color and delicious berries.

Peppers and tomatoes can be integrated into the landscape.

Edging plants can include colorful leaf lettuce, chives, lavender or parsley.

Choose our native evergreen huckleberry for shadier spots. The berries are tiny, but adored by local wildlife.

Other attractive low-water use edibles include cilantro, nasturtiums, oregano, thyme, chamomile, sage, kiwi and red currants.

• Get out and visit local gardens soon. It’s the best way to learn what survived and thrived through our cold winter. The Covington Water District’s WaterWise Demonstration Garden is open year-round for your smart-gardening inspiration.

What plants are looking gorgeous & healthy? Those are the ones to choose for your yard.

Join a local garden club and go on garden tours of one another’s gardens.

Look at your own yard for your success stories. If certain plants are thriving, plant more from the same family.

• Learn more by attending local gardening classes. Check the garden calendar in this paper. Visit Web sites that list educational opportunities –,

5.More information on green gardening can be found at

A final caution – resist the urge to rip out everything that’s looking poorly. Some plants will send up new growth a little late this year.