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How to deal with Snowfall in the garden

  • How to deal with Snowfall in the garden
  • How to deal with Snowfall in the garden
  • How to deal with Snowfall in the garden

A timely reminder... much of the county has woken up to snowfall this morning, and there are a few things that you can do to help your garden.

First and foremost, don't walk around on it unless you have to. Walking on snow compresses it into a solid, icy mass: on grass, this forms a long-lasting lid, which can crush and spoil the grass: and on hard landscaping, it forms slippery slabs, which take a long time to melt.

If you have paths or patios that you want to clear, sweep them before you walk on them - uncompressed snow is light, and easy to move, whereas compressed snow has to be scraped off, so it's a lot easier to do the clearing before it gets trampled. It helps to keep the snow shovel or broom close to the house! This applies to front paths, footpaths and drives as well - if you clear the snow before you walk or drive over it, it's safer for people and cars, and will disappear that much faster once the thaw begins.

Trees are usually fine in the snow: but some are more brittle than others, particularly Elm, Ash and Maple: decorative Pears can sometimes be damaged by heavy snow, and evergreens such as Juniper can be split open by snow, especially the narrow, fastigiate ones. So for them, it would be worth donning the wellies and getting some snow down the back of your neck by taking a broom out, and brushing off the worst of the snow. Start as high up the tree as you can reach, and brush it upwards or sideways - don't try to brush downwards, as you will just add more snow to the lower branches. Resist the urge to shake the tree, as this can damage it.

Shrubs, though, will mostly be fine, even though they may look terrifyingly squashed by the snow - one of the photos above shows my Black Bamboo, Phyllostachys nigra, which normally reaches in the upstairs window. This morning, there it is, bowing low to the ground, but it is a flexible plant and will recover once the snow is gone.

Again, though, if you are concerned about some pet shrubs, it might be worth taking the broom to them - as with trees, try to brush it off sideways, but with smallish shrubs you can sometimes put the broom into the middle of the bush and wiggle it to and fro, to shake off the snow

If you have any fruit cages, though, you should definitely rush out with a broom and push up the netting (another occupation guaranteed to get snow down the back of the neck) to prevent it breaking under the weight.

Once the snow is all gone, that is the time to assess both trees and shrubs for damage: on trees, any large broken limbs or boughs will have to be removed, and sometimes further work will be needed to restore some balance to the tree. As for shrubs, they are more easily fixed, as many ornamental shrubs are routinely pruned quite hard anyway.

So a heavy fall of snow is not a disastrous thing: and at least it will put us all in the right mood for Christmas!

Comments (3)

  1. Grower

    Trish Matthews

    Good reminder about the netting on fruit cages - mine is still distorted after the last heavy snow that we had many years ago which bought the netting down and buckled the front bar. And I still haven't learnt! I've been meaning to take the netting down for a while but still not got around to it. Fortunately we didn't have any snow this time - just a lot of frost...

  2. Grower

    Jim Edwards

    Yo ho Ho spent one night and one day clearing snow off shade houses and polytunnel before collapse, season of joy, merry xmas everyone. 😅

  3. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    And in case anyone is interested, my Black Bamboo is now standing proudly upright again, as the snow has started to melt here in Oxfordshire.

    (ok, I helped it along a little by shaking off the worst of the snow on Monday.)


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