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Every year I worry about the effect that snow and freezing conditions will have on my garden plants. Is there anything I need to do or can do?

Answer

Actually, for the most part, snow is good for your garden plants, but there are still a few things you should do. Most evergreens and shrubs have adapted to normal snow loads, but after very wet or heavy storms, they can use your help. Brush snow from evergreens and shrubs as soon as you can. Use a broom in an upward, sweeping motion. Serious damage can be caused by heavy snow or ice accumulating on the branches. be careful of where you direct the snow from your snow blower. Remember that heavy snow accumulations can put significant loads on roofs of buildings and garages.

You should avoid salt (sodium chloride) to de-ice your walkways and driveway. Salt will harm lawns, plants and shrubs. Consider using coarse sand or non-sodium de-icing agents such as calcium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), a salt-free melting agent made from limestone and acetic acid.

Even though they look dead in the winter, most perennials are not, they are just dormant. A blanket of snow actually helps perennials survive the winter. Even though the wind above a snow layer may be howling at temperatures well below freezing, the temperature at the soil surface can be at or just above freezing. At those temperatures, soil microbial activity can go on which helps the plants get growing when the temperature goes back up. Snow also provides protection for small mammals and birds that can tunnel into the snow for protection. If there is no snow cover, avoid heavy traffic on your dormant lawn. The dry grass can be easily broken and the crown of the grass plant may be damaged or killed.

If you need professional help this winter, Sprigs & Twigs has a bucket truck and crews that can get snow off your roof and take care of storm damage to your trees.

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.

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