Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Heavy snow

The combination of snow and rain can be a garden concern for anyone who has lost a beloved tree or seen the damage which can come from big limbs falling down. But even on a small scale many gardeners are concerned about their plants. So to address some of the questions I've had today:

Hemlock branches weighed down by wet snow.
1) Evergreens weighted down - Often the most obvious signs of distress, show here the branches of this Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) are dragged down by the weight of the "wet" snow. I don't normally advocate step ladders in the snow, but if I see branches that are really in trouble I will take my push broom and nudge those branches to knock off the snow. For really large trees this clearly doesn't work. But having your trees pruned, by shortening limbs which may be hanging over your house, will reduce the threat of having them break under heavy snow.  Have an arborist or tree specialist check your trees, if you are concerned.


2) Fruit Trees - The combined weight of fruit and heavy, wet snow can cause quite a bit of breakage; especially those trees, whose fruit is not favored by the birds. The broom trick mentioned above is a quick fix, but thinning your fruit trees each year is the better overall solution. I always suggest starting by removing the sucker growth, which are usually the fastest growing at the worst angles, read into this spindly branches most susceptible to this kind of damage.
These crabapple trees (Malus spp.) could use  some sucker growth pruning,
but the branches are NOT heavily weighed down. And not an immediate concern.

3) Fancy shrubs - Like your best china, somehow the most unique, slowest growing and most expensive shrubs seem to also be those most likely to get damaged. I recommend treating them like your best china, which you probably hand wash and store safely in the china cabinet. Check those shrubs during and after a snow fall, brush them off if needed, wrap them in burlap if they are wind intolerant, whatever it takes. I even have clients who have built "snow shelters" for their shrubs.

And for the rest of your garden, enjoy the look of freshly fallen snow!

1 comment:

Ken Nicely said...

Awww, I hate it when I found out that any of my plant's have been damaged by snow. Even if the branches or sides are just being weighed down by snow.

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