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It has been years since we have to wait until the middle of January in Chicagofor the first significant accumulating snow of the year (+2″), but here we are. It is often right after the first significant snowfall of the season that we hear from many concerned customers about the potential damage that snow may do to their trees and shrubs. While snow is vital to the winter survival of plants and trees it can create some problems for your plants under extreme conditions. In case you were wondering how to avoid damaging your plants this winter, read on…
Of course, the best solution is not to cover plants with excessive snow at all. Avoid plowing, blowing, or shoveling over the top of your plants. Mark your beds in Fall with posts or reflectors if necessary to make them more visible under extreme snow conditions.
Avoid piling “salty” snow near plants or on lawns. If you choose to use ice melt products such as rock salt on your walks and drives, keep in mind that this, mixed with the snow and slush that is piled around plants, can leach into the soil and harm roots. Plants will absorb these contaminants in the Spring which may cause die back and even death. If you must “salt”, use one of the more environmentally safe products such as calcium or magnesium chloride or an ordinary, inexpensive garden fertilizer, sand, or kitty litter mixed with equal parts of “safe” salt.
Consider these plant care tips now before the snow really starts to fly as it is easy to forget them in the throes of one of Chicago’s blizzards or ice storms. By taking extra care now when removing snow or melting ice you can keep your trees and shrubs safe from snow injury and you will find them to be more hearty and healthy come Spring.