Living in Ohio means we’re often subjected to harsh winter weather. While we can bundle up to protect ourselves from the elements, our landscaping and gardens aren’t so lucky. From heavy snowfall and horrific ice storms to vastly fluctuating temperatures, there is a lot of damage that can be inflicted on our landscape. Keep reading to learn more about the effects of winter weather on landscape and how to best protect your plants, shrubs, and lawn.
Snow mold is a cold-weather fungus that affects cool-season grasses. It is caused when a heavy blanket of snow falls before the ground has actually frozen. The weight on the grass coupled with moisture can cause two different types of snow mold: gray snow mold and pink snow mold.
So, what does snow mold actually look like? Chances are that you won’t be able to notice signs of snow mold until the spring when the snow has melted. When this occurs, you will see straw-colored circles ranging from a couple of inches to a few feet on your lawn. The patches will have a gray-white or whitish-pink appearance, depending on the type of snow mold infecting your lawn.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do to prevent snow mold. First, you should mow the grass low before the first snowfall and rake up all the leaves. Applying a preventative fungicide is also a good idea to prevent snow mold. If spring comes and you notice that there’s snow mold in your lawn, you can repair and reseed your lawn with help from your local landscape supply company.
Ice storms can also wreak havoc on shrubs, trees, and grass during the winter. This occurs when there is heavy rainfall and the temperature quickly drops, leaving your plants coated in a layer of ice. Unfortunately, the weight of this can cause branches to snap off trees and shrubs and may even cause entire trees to snap in half. There isn’t much that you can do to protect your landscape from ice storms, but one bit of advice is to ensure that your trees are pruned well to ensure there are no branches hanging over your roof or any areas where a falling branch could cause serious injury or damage.
Split bark is another common issue caused by winter weather. This is when the stem or bark of a tree or shrub splits at the base due to changes in temperature that occur suddenly. Bark splitting typically happens with warm temperatures during the day followed by hard frosts in the evening. If this happens, the tree may perish. Trees with smooth bark are most susceptible, and bark splitting can occur when the sun hits that trunk of the tree and warms it during the winter.
Winter burn is something that happens to broadleaf evergreens. This includes boxwood, rhododendron, holly, and azalea, but can also happen to needled evergreens like arborvitae, yews, spruce, and pine. Typically, any plant that doesn’t lose leaves over the winter can show signs of winter burn. This is when needles or leaves turn yellow and brown and then dry up. Winter burn is caused by winters that are either extremely cold or extremely mild and is made worse by a lack of snow or rain in combination with bright sun and strong winds.
If you are looking for a way to prevent winter burn, you can spray your evergreens or plants with an anti-transpirant that can be found at your local landscape supply store.
Significant root damage can also occur due to extreme winter weather. Plants with shallow roots like roses or other perennials can experience root damage as a result of freezing temperatures. In fact, if temperatures drop below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, plants with shallow roots may be killed. If this happens, these plants will wilt and die when the rest of your garden begins thriving in the spring.
To protect plants from root damage, you should add leaf filler or mulch into the landscape bed or garden to insulate the soil. This will help prevent soil temperatures from dropping below freezing. In addition, you can prune plantings back in spring and provide deep root fertilizer to encourage healthy growth.
Salt damage is also another effect of winter weather on the landscape. Any plant that is near a driveway or walkway that gets salted during winter is susceptible to salt damage. Particularly, you should pay close attention to shrubs, grasses, perennials, and evergreens.
Although the damage will occur during the winter due to heavy use of salt, you may not see visible signs of damage until late spring or early summer. Symptoms of salt damage are leaf scorch, branch die back, and the browning of evergreen trees. To prevent salt damage, you can prune back plantings before winter to reduce the risk of contact with salt.
Winter weather can also cause sun scald on certain tree species. These species include linden, cherry, and maple trees. Sun scald occurs when the bark of a tree is heated by the sun during the day. The heat of the sun causes the tissues to become active and break free from the dormant state. However, when the temperatures drop at night, the active tissues freeze and are killed. Cracking and peeling of the bark may follow, leaving the tree susceptible to insect and disease entry in the damaged areas.
If this happens, you should remove the loose bark with a sterilized pruner or blade. The tree should typically heal itself. To proactively protect against sun scald during the winter, you can also protect the trunks by wrapping them in plastic tree guards or commercial tree wrap.
Protect Your Landscaping this Winter with Help from Kurtz Bros., Inc.!
If you are looking to protect your landscape from winter damage, Kurtz Bros., Inc. can help. With locations throughout Ohio, we’ll be happy to help you select the right products to protect your landscaping from sun scald, snow mold, ice storms, and more. Contact us today or stop into one of our stores to learn more!