Winter Tips for Your Garden

You made it through leaf season!  All your perennial beds are put to sleep.  You might assume you don’t have to think about your landscaping for a couple of months. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Winter weather can have an adverse effect on our landscaping but there are some things you can do to prevent damage to your favorite plants. 

If you haven’t done so already, putting additional mulch around the base of your shrubs and trees will protect the root system by providing insulation.   Be careful not to mulch too closely to the trunks of trees. 

When snow arrives, be sure to knock heavy snow off tender limbs of trees and shrubs where possible.  This will help avoid limbs breaking under snow load.  This is especially important to plants like arborvitaes that are multi trunked and tend to separate and bend outwards.  If the limbs are covered in ice do not try to knock it off; you may cause the branches to break in the process.  Ice should be allowed to melt off naturally.

Ice melt products can be damaging to your hardscaping as well as landscape plants.  Research the type of material you are putting down.  Be sure not to over apply any product.  Ice melt products contain salts that can build up in the soil thus causing plants not to be able to absorb water, and die. Flushing the beds with water in the spring may help reduce the amount of accumulated salts.  Boxwoods are especially sensitive to salt damage.  If you cannot avoid using ice melts, choose plant material for those areas that are more salt tolerant such as junipers.    Some products are very corrosive to walkways and driveways, so use sparingly or look for another product that is less corrosive.  Calcium chloride for example may be less corrosive to concrete and asphalt than sodium chloride (rock salt) but may cause damage to landscape plants.  Some products can be toxic to pets.  If you have pets, be sure to use a product that is labeled as pet safe.

When doing snow removal, be careful not to pile snow onto shrubs.  The use of a snow blower is a good alternative to shoveling. Not only is it less physically strenuous, but it deposits the snow more gently and over a farther distance causing less damage to plant materials.

Wishing you a very Happy Holiday Season!