Dealing With Winter Damage In Your Yard

Winter damage has been particularly brutal in my yard and garden this year, and after the winter we just had it really doesn’t come as a big surprise!  Now that the weather has finally turned a bit more appropriate for outside work, I find myself out of excuses for cleaning it up.  With that in mind I thought I’d share some tips on how to deal with winter damage in your yard or garden.  Hope they help and have a great weekend!

How To Deal With Winter Damage In Your Yard

  1. Be Patient:  I’m starting the list with this one because it simply is the most important!  Patience is an important part of gardening at any time; give your yard a chance to heal itself of any winter damage before doing anything drastic!
  2. Broken Branches:  If you lost any branches on the trees in your yard, check where the branches have broken off and make clean cuts.  You should make the cut back to the outside edge of the ring where the branch fell off of the tree.  Making a clean cut will help to protect your tree from infection and disease.
  3. Hanging Branches: Check your trees (preferably before the leaves come – trust me it makes it easier!) for any branches that are hanging and then remove them.  You should be on the look out for any large branches that may snap off and fall as they may cause damage not only to your property, but also to you!  If the branch is too high, call in a professional arborist.
  4. Snow Damage:  Some of my poor cedars are looking pretty sad right now because of the weight of the snow they had to deal with all winter.  My plan of attack this year is to use long stakes and plastic wrapped wire to pull them back into shape.  If you plan on doing this you should make sure whatever you use to tie your trees with doesn’t end up cutting into the woody part of the plant creating more damage.  If you can’t find plastic wrapped wire you could use an old garden hose over the wire as protection.
  5. Salt Damage:  Fortunately the best solution to salt damage seems to be a lot of water!  If we hadn’t had so much rain this spring my water bill would definitely be affected by the amount of salt used on the sidewalks and roads in my neighbourhood!  If your plants are sheltered from the spring weather we’ve had, try watering both the leaves and the soil around the plant thoroughly.  You may need to do it a few times to ensure the salt has been leached out.  This is a good time to mention that in future years you should try your best to avoid shoveling snow on to your garden beds and plants, especially if you or your neighbours tend to go heavy on the salt.
  6. Winter Burn:  Winter burn, caused by the spring sun reflecting off late-season snow and burning leaves, is best left to correct itself.  Give your plants a good shake to get rid of any of the loose and dead leaves and then wait.  They should bounce back, if they don’t you can do a seasonal pruning to get rid of the affected part of the plant.
  7. Frost Heave: This type of winter damage, fortunately, is quite easy to deal with.  If a plant has heaved up out of the ground simply replant it.  In fact, if it the root system is fairly small you should be able to just push it back into the ground with your fingertips.
  8. Chewed Bark: Unfotunately, you may not be able to fix this type of winter damage.  Definitely, you will need to be patient!  If the bark has been chewed all the way around the tree it is probably to late to save it.  If the bark has only partially chewed off you should protect the base of the tree with wire meshing or something similar that rodents and pests can’t chew through.  Either way, don’t rush to cut down the tree, wait and see how it reacts this spring.

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