Be it freezing temperatures, snow or ice, wintry weather can damage, and even destroy, the landscaping on your property—no matter how resilient your plants seem.
“When inclement weather is in the forecast, most people focus on stocking up on food, rock salt and other necessities, and don’t necessarily think about protecting their property and landscape investments,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of Public Affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). “The truth is, plants and trees can be especially vulnerable during periods of extreme weather. A few simple steps can make a big difference when it comes to ensuring that your landscaping survives the winter and will thrive again in the spring.”
To protect your trees, shrubs and other plants, the NALP suggests:
Wrapping plants and smaller trees
Sub-freezing temperatures can damage many plant varieties, including roses, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas and crape myrtles. To provide plants with extra protection from the wind and cold, wrap them in burlap or a frost protection fabric and plant them along a building or fence that offers wind protection.
Inspecting newly planted trees and filling in any cracks
If you spot a crack, fill it with soil to prevent cold air from penetrating the root zone. Plant roots are slower to become dormant in the winter than stems, branches and buds, making them more vulnerable to sub-freezing temperatures.
Applying mulch around trees and shrubs
A two- to three-inch layer of mulch will help to insulate roots when the temperature drops. Contrary to popular belief, snow cover will also act as an insulator and keep soil temperatures higher, so there is no need to remove accumulated snow from around plants.
Watering heavily before the ground freezes
If the fall season was particularly dry, watering heavily can help reduce frost penetration. Because moist soil holds more heat than dry soil, watering ahead of cold weather will help to prevent frost from penetrating as deeply.
Pruning tree branches
Trimming back branches will help protect against heavy snow and ice damage. Work with a professional to identify any dead or dangerous tree limbs that should be trimmed to protect your home and property.
Preparing for windy conditions
Wind can be one of the most damaging effects of a winter storm. Secure any potted plants, outdoor furniture, awnings and other items on your property that could get damaged in high winds.
Protecting plants from salt
Rock salt used to deice sidewalks and roads can cause damage to plants. Avoid planting trees and shrubs in areas where salty runoff collects or where salt spray from passing cars could splash onto plants. Consider using burlap barriers to protect plants in vulnerable areas.
Planning your landscape with climate in mind
The best way to prevent damage to your landscape is to select plants and trees that are indigenous to your region, and therefore naturally equipped to survive in the climate. A landscape professional can help you to design a landscape for your home that will suit your lifestyle and withstand your region’s elements.