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Planting and pruning … in winter? NJ landscapers get a jump on spring

David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ
David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

Even with the recent snow storms, landscape companies have been busy in many parts of the Garden State getting an early jump on spring.

“They’re starting to do some of their cleanup work and to start actually prepping the beds, and doing the edging that they need to do,” said David DeFrange, a member of the board of directors for the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association.

He said even though we’re now back to winter weather after some unseasonably warm days, “our ground temperature is already up during some of the daytime temperatures to around 50 degrees easily, and so we can already start prepping seed beds to do over seeding.”

DeFrange said workers are installing perennial beds and digging trees.

“If mother nature works with us a little bit, we can start moving things forward. We actually see the budding on our plant materials moving forward quicker, so we can actually get out there and do the digging that we need to do.”

Dan Zarrow's exclusive New Jersey weather forecast

Landscaping crews begin with what they call their spring cleanup.

“That means us getting out, making sure that if there was any winter damage, that it was pruned off. Of course, we’ve had a lot of wind here in New Jersey, so we’re doing a lot of cleanup from branches, anything that’s been cracked they’ll want to clean that up.”

He noted landscaping firms in some areas have already been doing some seeding and then covering the ground with hay.

“If it still gets cold, we’ll still be fine because that thermal blanket of the ground temperature already being up. We can actually get that seed in there and it’ll just sit there till the temperatures are right.”

More snow is in the forecast this week, but DeFrange says that’s not a problem.

“We’re anticipating two to three weeks out we will have full lawn growth of turf, so we can start seeding right now. We feel pretty confident that if we get a little bit of a permafrost that hits at the top, it’s not damaging the seeds.”

He explained it’s the prolonged periods of cold are a problem. But temperatures should be back up into the 50s next week.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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