Gardening Tools

Gardening doesn’t stop in the wintertime. Plants are asleep and dormant in the winter which makes it an ideal time to clean up those existing plants in your yard. We are fortunate in the South to have mild winters where the ground is not frozen for several weeks with snow and ice covering everything. We instead have the opportunity to work in the soil with our plants so they will thrive in the spring.

Even though many of the flowers of summer have died out in the winter, the shrubs, trees, ornamental grasses, and perennials are still in the yard waiting to awake in the spring. Now is the time to prune, trim and move or propagate any plants that have outgrown their space.

Hopefully, you have a drawing of you yard and markers where plants are when in full bloom. If not, draw a sketch of your yard and where the plants are that you want to prune, more or divide. When dividing plants, you need a place to plant the leftover healthy plants. If you are out of room in the yard, put them in a container with some soil from your yard and see if your friend, neighbors or relatives could use them. Everybody loves free plants.

Bushes and trees need to be pruned in the wintertime. Overgrown bushes do not need to be removed, simply cut out all dead areas and prune the bush back to the size you prefer. If you want to move the bush, now is the time. After removing the bush, you can also separate the roots by cutting them with a gardening knife or a strong butcher knife or pulling them apart. Plant the new bush in another part of the yard.

Ornamental grasses should always be cut back to at least 12-8 inches above the ground in January or February. Grasses have a tendency to die in the middle after a few years. If this has happened to your ornamental grass, you need to dig it us. Even if the grass if not dying in the center, it may have outgrown its space and needs to be reduced in size. After extracting it from the soil, simply cut away the dead portion and cut the remaining roots into several smaller portions to replant using one to plant where the original plant was thriving.

Other perennials and plants also may have outgrown the area such as Lircope, hostas, lilies, and other bulb plants. Separating these plants will give them a healthier, fresh look come spring Simply dig up the plant and using a strong knife cut the plant into four pieces. Replant one piece in the existing hole and plant the remaining plants elsewhere in the yard. Liriope plants make great edging plants along a driveway or sidewalk. Hostas do well in an area where there is no sun, under a tree or next to a fence row.

Several different types of ferns are used in the garden especially shady areas. These need to be cut back to the ground if they have not died out naturally. Spread mulch on top to protect the roots and make sure you label the area, so you know not to plant something on top of the ferns.

Many people have wisteria growing on a trellis or over a pergola. During the winter all the leaves and flowers drop and all you have are bare limbs. If you don’t want your wisteria to continue growing and becoming larger and heavier in the next season, prune the limbs back now to within 12 inches of the ground. It will grow back to the same size next season with fresh stems and flowers.

Don’t be afraid to prune, trim or separate plants. They love it and will show you when spring comes around with beautiful foliage and flowers.

Diane Walton is one of many UGA Master Gardener Extension Volunteers of Cherokee County. For more information or questions contact the Cherokee County Extension Office at 770-721-7803 or for upcoming seminars follow us on Facebook at or


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