It is snowing again! In the past few days, we have been inundated with more than 7” of snow. Making snowmen and snow angels has been so delightful. The trees are covered with snow and there are icicles on the roof. It’s winter wonderland in my garden.
But, I also see winter damage in my garden. The bamboo is completely bent by the weight of all the snow and ice. To prevent branch breakage, I shook them gently to knock the snow off. The Nandina (or Heavenly Bamboo) got the same treatment. Isn’t the Nandina beautiful? I love this awesome four season shrub. But, that’s a story for another post, another day!
In the Pacific Northwest, the freeze and thaw cycles that alternate with cold and mild weather spells can cause extensive damage. Here are a few basic tips to prevent or repair winter damage in the garden –
- Do not fertilize late in the season, especially late summer. The surge of young growth will not have enough time to harden off before the cold spells of November.
- Mulch the garden beds with wood chips in late fall. The wood chips will maintain an even soil temperature and protect the roots, especially that of herbaceous perennials.
- Tie the multiple branches of large arborvitae (Thuja) in a spiral fashion with heavy twine. The larger the tree gets, the more it begins to open at the top, thus increasing its susceptibility to break.
- Prune out the dead/broken branches in fall, so that these don’t succumb to the weight of the snow.
- During a cold spell, shake off the snow/ice from the plants, especially if the weight is causing the branches to bend and break.
- If the plant does get damaged in the winter, wait till growth begins in early spring to remove the damaged/dead branches.
More detailed information can be found this Fine Gardening article “Preventing and Repairing Winter Damage” by Bonnie Lee Appleton.