It’s very easy to neglect your garden in the winter months, but if you do this, your plants and lawn will suffer and you will end up paying the price in the spring when you have to deal with the after effects of the frost, snow and cold temperatures and you have to replace dead and damaged plants. I can help you to minimize cold and frost damage through regular maintenance throughout the winter months but there are also steps you can take yourself.
Why the cold damages your plants?
Frost causes the water in plant cells to freeze, which damages the cell wall. You can spot plants that have been damaged by frost as they become blackened and distorted. Evergreen plants can turn brown and unhealthy looking. Where plants face the morning sun, this can cause even more problems as they defrost too quickly which ruptures the delicate cell walls.
When soil becomes frozen in extended periods of cold weather, roots are unable to take up water and even hardy plants can die from lack of moisture.
How can you minimise winter damage?
There are steps that can be taken to ensure that your garden does not suffer too much when the cold winter months arrive. I can advise you on the best plants to buy throughout the year and where they should be placed but here are some basic tips which I follow and which will help to minimise winter damage on your plants:
- Cold air and frost always go to the lowest point in a garden first so if you have a sloping garden, avoid planting less hardy plants towards the bottom of the slope.
- Avoid golden or variegated plants that can be more tender and susceptible to frost and cold damage.
- If you do have more tender plant varieties in your garden, ensure they are planted in a sheltered place, for example under large trees or bushes or against walls. This will ensure they have some protection during the winter months.
- Don’t be tempted to prune your tender plants over the winter months and any autumn pruning should be minimal. This helps to protect them from frost. If plants are pruned too hard in the months prior to winter, any new growth is likely to be damaged by the cold and frost.
- Protect them from the morning sun, which can damage growth if the plant defrosts too quickly. If you can't move the plants, try covering them with a layer of black plastic to block out the sun.
Dealing with snow
When it snows heavily, you may think there is nothing that can be done to protect your garden except wait for it to melt. One positive effect of snow is that it can actually protect plants from the cold and frost by insulating them. However, when it snows heavily, it can cause leaves, stems and branches to break because of the sheer weight. However, damaging effects can be minimised by you or I taking a few simple steps:
- To prevent damage and disfigurement from a falling of heavy snow, shake as much excess snow as possible from the branches of large trees, shrubs and hedges.
- Remove heavy deposits of snow from the roofs of greenhouses or cold frames to let in the light and prevent the structures from bending under the weight.
- To stop the branches of conifers being pulled out of shape, use lengths of string to support them. This will help them to spring back to their original position once the snow melts.
- Try not to walk on the lawn when it is snow-covered as this can damage the grass and leave marks on the lawn. It can also lead to fungal diseases which thrive in cold, damp weather.
I am happy to come to you in all weathers so please do give me a call if you’d like me to come to you when it snows to put in place the above steps so you don’t have to do it yourself.