Preparing for Winter
- Water regularly before it freezes. One of the best things you can do to help trees and plants survive a tough winter is to ensure that they have enough water in the soil before the hard freeze sets in. Many people forget about watering once the heat of summer is gone but it is important to keep watering during the fall until it freezes because your shrubs and trees can access the moisture in the soil. You might think that the snow will melt into the ground but if the ground is frozen but it will run off instead.
- Add mulch for protection. Mulch isn’t just attractive, it actually insulates the roots of your trees and shrubs; keeping them warmer and protected from harsh winds and ice and temperature fluctuations. If your mulch has worn away during the summer, it is a good idea to add more; making sure you have 2 to 3 inches covering the roots of your plants.
- Protect trees and shrubs with an anti-desiccant. Some shrubs and trees are susceptible to damage from winter’s ice, wind and snow. Treating them with an anti-desiccants spray on coats the foliage with a protective layer, which slows down moisture loss and protects them from winter burn.
Snow and Ice Management
Winter is hard enough on your landscape; you need to ensure that your snow and ice management plan makes protecting your landscape a priority. Many landscape contractors provide snow removal services to their clients. The benefit of working with your regular service provider is that instead of having a snow removal company that only sees your property a few times and year and doesn’t know it well, your landscape contractor understands the needs of the property and has a vested interest in keeping your plants and trees healthy.
In order to protect your landscape when dealing with snow and ice, think about the following:
- How will deicing agents affect your grass, trees and shrubs? Ask your landscape contractor about the types of chemicals they use and how that will affect your plants and grass. Many agents, like salt, can damage plants and should be washed off your grass and plants.
- Where will you pile snow so that it doesn’t damage your landscape? Piling snow on grass for long periods of time can damage it and snow piles can also starve nearby plants of oxygen. Obviously, you want to avoid placing snow directly on top of shrubs and other landscaping. It is important to map out your plan ahead of time because when 3 feet of snow hits, contractors can’t always see where your landscaping is if they aren’t familiar with your property or aren’t following a plan.
- Does your snow and ice management contract cover landscape repairs? You should know what your contract says about repairs to your landscape if it is damaged during snow and ice treatments.
- Do any of your trees and shrubs need special precautions? If you planted new trees or shrubs this year or have delicate or vulnerable plants you may want to mark those areas like they do with fire hydrants so contractors can see where they are.
Winter’s elements can be hard on trees, plants, and shrubs; however, proper planning can ensure your landscape is prepared to withstand what Mother Nature throws its way.