Weather warning – snow

Snow might be fun but heavy snow can caused serious damage in the garden, breaking branches off trees, crushing valuable shrubs and knocking hedges out of shape. To prevent these kinds of problems, you should carefully knock off as much of the snow as possible without endangering yourself. Use a stick to gently shake branches of shrubs and only tap branches that appear to be sagging and at risk of breaking, to lighten their load. 

As the snow thaws, expect to see some shrubs crushed and evergreens and conifers especially, pushed over… you can restore their shape by wrapping them with soft string or by propping them up with stout stakes, which must be left in place through spring to allow the shrubs to re-align themselves. As time goes by, you may also notice roadside evergreen plants may also have been affected by salt spray from the gritting trucks or by sub-zero blast of winds – usually indicated by browning or blackened foliage. This can do more lasting damage as the thawing sap causes stems, leaves and buds to burst and then die.

Some herbaceous plants may actually benefited from having their crowns protected by an insulating layer of snow but only time will tell 

One of the biggest problems, we’ve yet to face however, is the damage caused when the snow thaws. Moisture in the ground that freezes, then thaws, then freezes again may damage root systems, which is why after a big freeze many plants die. By late spring we should know how much the big freeze has affected gardens, so be patient and wait until the risk of frost is past before you do your final assessment and attempt to dig up and replace or prune affected plants. Also don’t overlook your lawn, it might have taken the hardest toll, especially if it has been constantly walked on and there is every risk that fungal diseases might take hold when the temperature eventually rises. So give plants some tlc in spring.

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