This past weekend’s snowfall, like most significant snowfalls brings up questions for many gardeners about winter preparedness. One question that is often asked after a few inches of snow is “will it damage my plants”? Or “should I remove the snow from my plants”? The answer is not a simple yes or no.
Many popular evergreens such as juniper, arborvitae, Leyland cypress, and some varieties of holly have multiple leaders or stems. Snow can accumulate on the individual leaders and cause them to be weighed down and disfigured or even break. This does not mean you need to rush around and tie the leaders together before the next snowfall or wrap the tree like its being delivered from a full serviced garden center. You can take the time and tie the leaders if you are concerned about a particular tree being damaged during a wet, heavy snow. Removing snow from a plant can be done using gentle, upward strokes with a soft broom, never downward. Do not shake the plant to remove snow which can break stems. Or you can apply the natural snow removal method; sunshine and warmer temperatures. Multiple leader plants generally recover their shape during the melting process. Overall, I recommend resisting the urge to be a tree helper; they are more resilient than you may think.
Likely the recent snow did not cause any damage to deciduous trees in your landscape. However, it is never a bad idea to have your larger trees evaluated by certified arborists. Limbs that are dead or damaged should be removed properly. If you need a list of local certified arborists, go to http://www.chesterfield.gov/extension/ and click on the certified arborists list under the quick links tab. You also can call the Chesterfield Cooperative Extension office at 804-751-4401.
Another plant, which is likely the most abundant plant in your landscape that can be affected by snow, is grass. It is not the snow piled up on the turf that causes the damage; it is the walking around on the grass. The damage is to the upward and downward vascular tissues inside the blade of the grass that transports water and food are severed and the blade slowly dies. You will see your footprints a few days after the snow melts and the damaged grass will have a grey color. The good news is that it is a cosmetic issue and the grass will recover in a few weeks.
Remember, yards are for enjoyment and there are not many things kids (of all ages) enjoy better than playing in the snow.
Larry’s timely tip: Need help with your lawn or landscape skills? Chesterfield Cooperative extension offers free seminars at various public libraries beginning January 25. Space is limited and registration is required. Go to http://www.chesterfield.gov/extension/ and click on upcoming events and programs for a complete listing of spring seminars or you can call the number above.