Winter can wreak havoc on lawns, particularly in regions of the country that experience snow and ice. If you live in a cool or cold winter climate, take these steps to protect your plants, trees, and shrubs from snow, ice, winds, and winter temperatures.
Prepare Your Lawn For a Longer Winter’s Nap
- Rake leaves and remove debris. These items may smother your lawn and stunt the growth of new grass, or worse, kill it all together.
- Cut grass shorter. During the growing season, lawns should be cut between 3 inches to 3.5 inches, but the final lawn cutting should be 2 inches to 2.5 inches to protect new growth and to minimize the lawn serving as a feeding ground for pests.
- Aerate and fertilize before the first freeze. While your lawn won’t use the fertilizer in its dormant stage, it will draw upon the nutrients as soon as the weather starts to warm.
Protect Trees and Shrubs
- Apply mulch. Mulch around trees, plants, and shrubs to add extra protection for winter. Mulching is an important control for erosion and loss of water. A 2-inch layer of mulch will reduce water loss and help maintain uniform soil temperature around the roots.
- Prune most plants in winter. The late dormant season is best for most pruning in many regions. Pruning in late winter, before spring growth begins, leaves fresh wounds exposed for only a short amount of time before new growth begins.
- Protect against water loss. Apply anti-transpirants to plants and trees, especially evergreens, to help reduce water loss from plant leaves (similar to sweating). Burlap wrapping also may be used to shield valuable evergreens from salt spray and winter winds.
- Take precautions against snow and ice. Tie branches together that may be susceptible to snow loads and to remove snow from low branches, gently brush it from the trees instead of shaking limbs which may cause them to break. Remove limbs that may break from snow or ice as damaged trees are more prone to disease.
- Apply wire mesh to the base of young trees. This will protect against the gnawing teeth of roaming nuisance wildlife.
Minimize Salt Damage
- Salt and melting agents for snow and ice can damage plants and trees by drawing water away from their roots. Get rid of extra salt by flushing out the soil with plenty of water.
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