With the temperatures changing and days getting shorter, our gardening efforts should continue with the planting of new shrubs and trees.

This is the absolute best time to plant. Shrub and tree roots will keep growing and develop a large root system over the winter, as long as the soil temperatures stay above 40 degrees, which is ideal for root growth.

The plant will not be trying to grow new limbs or flower now.

By next spring and early summer, these plants will have developed root systems that can handle the summer heat easier.

You will still have to water the root ball periodically so the roots will develop. Most trees will need to be watered weekly for the first two years to make sure they are well established, and shrubs will need to be watered weekly for one year.

Make sure you mulch these new plants and add a new layer of mulch to your established beds to make them look finished, establish the bed line and give the beds a refreshed look.

You can still plant pansies, violas and other perennials at this time for color over the winter and spring.

Lawn grass has slowed growth down drastically and all you need to do is remove leaves periodically and treat for weeds and insect problems.

Now is a good time to treat for winter weeds that have germinated or are germinating. Apply an herbicide that can kill the weeds with a combination of chemicals in one mixture or use one herbicide.

By controlling the weeds now, you reduce the stress on the grass later next spring. It also makes the lawn and yard look prettier over the winter months without having weeds all over the lawn.

Keep a watch out for mole cricket activity, as these insects can still be active at this time. Watch for runs of dirt the height of a pen or pencil or piles of soil that break apart to nothing but loose soil if you touch it.

If you see mole cricket activity, treat with an insecticide to control them.

Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.