Winter and the Garden : A Damaging Tale

I don’t know anybody who isn’t ready for spring at this point. I love all seasons, but I am getting really worried about winter and what it’s going to do not only to my house (ice dams) but my plants! I fear that being buried under 4 feet of snow is going to result in some major damage. From what I can still see, I have some major Winter Burn, and I already know I have lost quite a few plants. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I have my work cut out for me as soon as the snow melts!

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So, let’s start with the basics so we can get a better understanding of typical damage done to our gardens due to winter, and the approach we should take with each of these perils.

Ice and Breakage:

Depending on what part of the country (or world) you live in, many people are have experience some major icing that has coated the trees and shrubs in your yard. Ice is the most damaging and most dangerous winter peril, in my opinion. So what if you have a tree with broken branches in your yard? Unless it is a major danger to you and your house, DO NOT try to prune it. Pruning a broken branch or shrub with ice on it could cause more damage to the plant than you think. Wait until spring to start cutting it back to stimulate new growth.

Winter Burn:

This has also been referred to as desiccation. Evergreens are the most susceptible to this, including my own Emerald Green Arborvitae, which I have mentioned in my posts before. I had purchased two small arborvitae in the Fall of 2013, and I noticed this fall that the one had turn completely brown, as if it were dead. Winter Burn happens when the plant has not received enough water in the fall to sustain itself through winter. And interestingly enough, your plants don’t stop losing water during the winter, either. You can try to see if it will come back on its own, or you can just remove it during the spring. Even just a regular winter takes a lot out of your plants. I have said this before, I know my biggest weakness with my garden is not watering enough. Another lesson learned! 

Animal Damage:

In the past, I have mentioned my never-ending struggle with my “deer” friends. Deer aren’t the only ones to cause some major damage to your landscape. Rabbits, moles, voles and mice can also do some work on your plants. The only thing you can do with animal damage is just wait let it go and allow for nature to heal itself, and prepare better the following year by covering and fencing in the plants you know animals like to target.

Snow:

As I have depicted many times, most people in the Eastern US are dealing with historic snowfall and sub-zero temperatures.

This is the coldest I have ever seen it in the Buffalo  Metro area.
This is the coldest I have ever seen it in the Buffalo Metro area.

With over 4 feet of snow in your yard, you cannot do anything to help your plants. In fact, trying to help them with that much snow will only harm them. Your perennials that go dormant every year should not be harmed at all, even if they are buried in snow. It’s really hard to harm a plant that has established itself in your yard. Don’t worry about what you can’t control–it’s not worth it.

For the most part, there isn’t anything that cannot be fixed in your garden without a little time and patience when spring comes. “Live and Learn” comes in to mind when you are experiencing a particularly brutal winter, as most of us are this year. None of us have even come close to dealing with weather like this before, so the more we learn this year, the more we will be prepared for the next bad winter!

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5 thoughts on “Winter and the Garden : A Damaging Tale

  1. I totally hear you with being ready for spring. In my neighborhood, with all this snow the deer have very little to eat from and end up eating my lilacs! Can’t wait to see what everything looks like once the snow melts. Best of luck to your plants.

    Like

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