In the winter months, many people start to really hate the snow and everything associated with it. I am one of the few who love snow and all of its beauty. I know it is cold and difficult to drive in, but it is a beautiful addition to our otherwise drab winter landscapes. The problem with snow is that it can cause some very problematic conditions to our landscapes for the spring. So here are a few tips to keep your landscapes in the best possible health through the snowy winter conditions, and remember spring will be here before we know it.
In the frost of early fall and throughout snow covered and frost covered lawns in the winter, we need to remember to keep off our turf as much as possible in the winter months. Avoiding traffic on frozen or frosted turf in the fall and winter will help your lawn look better in the spring. Pedestrian or vehicle traffic on the lawn in the winter can cause aesthetic damage that shows up in the spring. Many times we might see tire tracks or even footprints in an otherwise green spring lawn. Turf will overcome these problems, but not until later in the spring.
With deicers applied to the roads, sidewalks, or driveways:
- Do not apply the deicer and then shovel it onto the lawn or nearby plants
- Deicers can accumulate in the soil or on the leaf surfaces of many of our plants and cause damage in the spring to our plants
- Deicer damage shows up as water stress on our plants in the spring
- If salt damage typically occurs to plants near the street or sidewalk, cover them with burlap or canvas to protect them
For care of our trees and shrubs when snow accumulates on them:
- Let snow and ice melt naturally
- Don’t knock the ice & snow off to avoid breaking branches & causing further damage
- If you need to get large amounts of snow off trees, carefully brush it off with a broom
- If branches are drooping due to heavy snow, they will pop back into their natural shape in the spring
As for the perennials in your landscape, make sure they have mulch around them throughout the winter. With the winter and snow, come the north winter winds. Sometimes, this snow can be quite strong and it may blow the mulch away from our perennial plants. Mulch is necessary in the winter, not to keep the roots warm, but to keep them a steady temperature. It also helps the plants avoid frost heaving, where the freezing and thawing of the ground heaves the plant out of the ground. Winter mulch should be two to four inches deep.
Be sure to take the time to ensure that your plants are continuing to receive the best possible care throughout the winter months to ensure their survival to next spring. Remember, if we have a warmer day and we have not been seeing much snow cover, you may want to go out and water your trees and shrubs. If you can’t get to all of your trees and shrubs, at least give the younger or newly planted trees a drink. You can also start to get out your plant catalogs and decide what you may want to add or change in your landscape. Plan now for early spring planting. With care our landscape will look amazing next spring.