Protecting Landscape in the Winter Months

Desiccation refers to the drying out of a living organism. In your landscape plants, winter desiccation injury occurs when plants lose moisture from the leaves and do not have the ability to absorb water from the frozen soil. This moisture loss may cause your plant’s leaves and stems to dry out, resulting in discoloration of leaves and even death to stems and branches. There are several steps you can take during the winter months to protect the investment of your outdoor living spaces.

 

Anti-Desiccant

Ohio can have drastic fluctuations in temperature and high winds during the winter; both of which can accelerate moisture loss in plants.  Anti-desiccant applications will help your plants hold moisture by providing protection against evaporation and slowing down moisture loss. It will also protect the foliage from accelerated moisture loss due to wind.  The spray will break down over time, so it’s a good idea to have trees and shrubs treated regularly to extend the longevity of the application.

Although, Anti-desiccants can be applied as early as November it is never to late to begin application. In areas that experience cold harsh winters, like Ohio, multiple treatments are recommended throughout the season to ensure the material is protecting trees and plants all winter long. These applications are ideal for broadleaf evergreens* (plants that keep their foliage all winter), and beneficial to plants exposed to wind and/or full sun since these lose moisture faster than those protected from the wind and in shade. Anti-desiccant applications can last 2-3 months at a time and will gradually wear off by springtime.

 

Burlap Covers

Another option for protecting plants is a burlap covering. This creates a “screen” or “windbreak” around the plant.  For small plants, the burlap can be wrapped over or around the plants and secured with twine.  For moderate to large plants, drive stakes into the ground around the plant and then secure the burlap to the stakes using staples. Burlap, stakes, and twine can be purchased from most garden centers, improvement stores, nurseries, and co-ops.

 

Tree Wraps

Finally, tree wrap can be purchased and used to protect the bark of smaller trees. This will help reduce splitting of the bark that can caused by temperature fluctuation during the winter. Split bark can cause damage or disease to the interior (cambium) of the tree, leading to permanent injury or death. Like burlap, tree wrap can be found at most garden centers, improvement stores, nurseries, and co-ops.

 

Call the Professionals

If you are unsure which methods make the most sense for you landscape, Country Club Landscaping can assist in creating a winter protection plan. This includes anti-desiccant applications and winterization of plants, trees, and foliage. We are happy to help ensure your outdoor living space makes it through the cold Ohio winter for a full bloom come spring.

 

*Not all plants should get anti-desiccant treatments. Do not spray an anti-desiccant on waxy-blue conifers such as blue spruce. Country Club Landscape can help assess your trees to determine appropriateness of application.

The Science of Snow and Ice Management

Nothing is quite as beautiful as waking up to freshly fallen snow. Unfortunately, with that beauty there are also serious safety hazards and the risk of property damage. Slips, falls, and damage due to accumulation can be adverted with the proper tools and a proactive strategy. The tips and tricks that follow are sure to save you time (and a strained back!) and help effectively manage snow and ice accumulation.

The real science behind snow and ice removal is staying ahead of the accumulation as much as possible. Instead of waiting for the snow to completely pass; periodically clear any walkways, porches, and driveways. Removing the snow every few inches will mean less physical stress on the body due to the reduced overall weight of accumulation. Further, taking a proactive stance means the snow and ice is easier to remove because it has not been packed down by footfalls, traffic, and additional snowfall.

While clearing snow it is important to “work smarter, not harder” and to be prepared for frigid temperatures and physical labor. Wearing breathable layers of cotton, silk, or wicking materials reduces risk of overheating in the cold and are easy to pull on and off as needed. Ensure your own safety with a pair of waterproof and slip resistance boots. When shoveling, a pushing method is recommended over lifting and dumping since it causes less strain and helps conserve energy. This is a must if you will be clearing snow every few hours.

Having the right equipment can also help reduce strain and decrease time outdoors. Avoiding wide-blade shovels and opting for a smaller scoop with a d-shaped grip allows for better control and less lower back strain. Shovels are also available with a second auxiliary grip or wheels to help literally push the snow away. Snow throwers are another excellent option for snow removal. They are the smaller, less expensive cousin to the snow blower. Snow throwers are the least labor intensive option and are available in both gas and electric models.

Once the snow is cleared, reduce freezing and increase traction with an ice melter. There are many traditional and green options on the market. The most effective ice melters contain magnesium chloride or calcium chloride which will continue to melt at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Rock salt is slightly cheaper and can manage melting up to 20 degrees. Pet owners and animal lovers may prefer something “greener” due to research showing sodium, calcium, and magnesium chloride can cause sores on paw pads and are toxic if ingested. Green options are usually salt free without sodium and magnesium chloride. These products are more effective at offering traction than actually melting ice or snow. Look for items marked “pet friendly” to ensure they will be safe around animals. Sand and kitty litter are also traction only options that are 100% pet safe.

Of course, you could stay warm indoors and hire a professional to manage the snow and ice for you! This is a great option for someone with previous, or current, back injuries or cardiac concerns, physical impairments that would prevent safe snow removal, or if it is just too dang cold!! Country Club Landscaping offers residential and commercial snow and ice management. Available packages include snow removal from drive and walkaways, salting services, and ice damage inspection (commercial package only). Our services are offered in convenient and affordable packages to save you time and prevent worry all winter long.

Whether your choose the DIY or professional route, this guide to snow and ice removal and management is sure to reduce stress, maintain a safer homestead, and allow more time to enjoy the winter weather as you see fit!

Resources
www.BobVilla.com
www.des.nh.gov/divisions/water/wmb/salt-reduction-initative/impact.htm
www.SIMA.org