Salt can cause considerable damage to plants as it breaks down in the soil and starts replacing available nutrients with compounds that are toxic to the plant, some plants are more susceptible to its effects than other.
If your plants are along a roadway that may get slush spray from salted roads you can help protect them by building a barrier with plastic along the road way.
Water the landscaped areas and trees close to walkways, roads or drives deeply before winter sets in. You can also add gypsum to promote leaching in late fall or spring (when the snow thaws).
Use salt that does not contain sodium chloride for areas around sensitive plants.
Some common trees in our landscape & lawns that are susceptible to salt damage:
Norway & Red Pine
Eastern White Pine
Many species of Oaks
Wrapping the trunk of a tree with tree wrap or a light colored wrap will help reflect the suns rays to help prevent activated growth during the winter months.
Heavy cold winds can cause evergreen plants to lose moisture through their needles and dehydrate them. The needles will become brown (though that is not an indication that the whole branch is dead) and unsightly. Help protect your conifers by watering deeply before winter sets in and setting up a burlap barrier on the unprotected side of the tree.
Mulch newer trees to help the soil cool down slower and retain moisture. Never pile mulch directly against the trunk of the tree – it should have a ‘volcano’ appearance (as if the trunk of the tree is the lava shooting out).
This has been one heck of a brutal winter; from prolonged freezing temperatures to more snow than we know what to do with, it’s been long and cold! Spring is just around the corner though; in fact I saw some birds in the yard over the weekend that made me think we have 2 weeks left until melt-off. Very excited as 40 degrees sounds like an extreme warm up at the moment.
I digress, this article is focused on what we may expect to see on our lawns once the snow does melt off. If you recall (for the Greater Toledo Area) we had 6 or 8 inches of snow fall in mid/late December of 2013, followed by rain/slight thaw and then more snow on top of that. Since then, it’s been VERY COLD! Snow mold may likely be spotted on some lawns as the snow melts away, I’m only saying this because I believe the conditions are going to be right for it in some areas. If you spot snow mold, do not panic. Once the lawn has snow mold, there is not a fungicide that will ‘cure’ it – and most lawns will likely recover anyway. Here are a couple of tips if you do spot snow mold:
During the last cut of the season: Mow low (about 1.5 – 2.5 inches, as low as you can go without scalping the lawn). This will help keep the blades of the grass from matting down under snow cover.
During the first cut of the season: Again, you want to mow low. This will help promote heat and air circulation to the plant.
Snow mold almost looks like the lawn sneezed on itself upon close inspection. If you notice that, rake the areas of matted down turf so you are promoting air circulation.
Late application of fertilizer for the season (late fall/early winter) should not contain too much nitrogen so there is little chance of surge growth.
The area should recover. If your lawn tends to be prone to snow molds in certain areas, try overseeding in late summer with a disease resistant turf type like some varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass and fescues.
I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Jack Carls of Daystar about landscaped plants and the coming snow; and what we, as homeowners, can do to protect our flower beds and prevent any damage to the landscaped areas of our lawn. Here’s what he shared with us:
How can I protect my landscaped beds that run along the driveway from snow, salt and/or plows? Do you offer a service for this? Protecting landscape beds that run along driveway… Install a burlap wall along the plants. Do not pile snow on the plants, either blow the snow over the top or have snow pulled/pushed to street and piled in front yard. Yes, we offer this service.
How can I keep deer from eating my plants this winter? Do you offer a service for this? How to keep deer from eating your plants…. We can apply a deer repellent that will keep them away. Yes, we can help keep deer away from your landscaped areas and trees.
Is there a way to avoid a slushy mess from salt melting ice and snow? Remove all snow before applying ice melting agents.
Do you have any tips to help protect plants before winter comes into full force? Do you offer a service for this? Protecting your plants from winter….. Burlap fencing, mulch leaves and place around plants instead of taking to curb or mulch before snow arrives to create a blanket for the plants. Also spray with dormant oil to protect. Yes, we offer these services.
If you have questions for Jack and Daystar, here’s their contact info: