Around the Yard

Things to do this week:

* Buy bare. Bare-root plants are now at nurseries. You’ll find roses, deciduous fruit trees, berries, grapes, a few vegetables and even some ornamentals sold without soil around their roots, although they may be wrapped in plastic and packed in sawdust.

It’s an economical and sound way to plant. It is also the time of year when you’ll find the largest selection of these plants. At some nurseries, the selection is mind-boggling.

To plant, prune dead or damaged roots and shake any sawdust from them. Soak the roots overnight in a pail of water. Plant by spreading the roots over a cone of soil so they continue to grow in a natural fashion. Experts agree that fruit trees do best if no amendments are added to the soil. Simply pulverize the soil. Amend the soil, however, for roses, berries and vegetables.


Most nurseries have handouts that diagram proper bare-root planting techniques. Ask for one.

* Winter water. If this winter continues to be dry, be sure to water the garden about once a week, or less near the coast. The wet winter last year proved that 30 or so inches of rainfall in winter is appreciated by almost all plants. We may not be able to duplicate that with irrigation, but we can make sure plants don’t go through a winter drought. Don’t overdo it in shaded areas; even with no rain they remain wet for a long time.

Of course, if it does rain there is no need to water for at least a week.

* Prune roses. Near the coast you can begin pruning roses. See the list of pruning events (on this page) if you want to learn how to do it properly, but never cut roses back as hard as is depicted in Eastern-oriented books.

Inland, where frosts are likely, don’t prune until after Jan. 15. This will ensure that roses leaf out after the chance of frosts has passed.