Protect Plants During the Weekend Storm

Today’s spring beauty may be gone tomorrow.

flowersA major spring snowstorm is on the way to Colorado’s Front Range and this is not welcome news if you love your landscape. Spring snows are wet and clingy.  Rather than powdery flakes falling through barren twigs and branches, heavy flakes will latch on to spring’s emerging tree leaves and blossoms.  This weight can break limbs off of trees and smash tulips onto the ground.

On the front end of these storms, we can’t predict exactly what will happen – but we can prepare.  Depending on what’s planted in your yard, you can quickly take advantage of common household items to offer plants protection before the snow flies.

Following are some tips starting from the ground up:

Emerging seedlings. Protect recently seeded veggie beds by covering them with bubble wrap with the bubble side down. Place a few rocks or other objects around the edges to hold it in place. The layer of wrap keeps seeds and seedlings from washing away and the air inside the bubbles offers insulation to protect tiny leaves from freezing.

Tulips and other flowering bulbs. If you have a big expanse of flowers, pick some for an indoor bouquet.  Next, cover groups of flowers with buckets, sturdy boxes or plant containers.  This protection prevents snow from crushing the plants.

For peonies and small flowering shrubs, place a tomato cage turned upside down around the plant.  Then wrap the cage with some type of fabric to form a teepee.  Use a large towel, burlap, sofa throw, etc.  Another way to create a teepee is to cut a box in half and prop the ends together over the plant.

Avoid using plastic such as garbage bags or plastic tarps as the plastic will not provide freeze protection.

Upright evergreens that tend to splay from heavy snow can also be protected with a large teepee. Open a 6 ft. (or taller) ladder and place it over the plant.  Then wrap or drape a blanket around the ladder. This quickly-built structure will protect the plant inside.  If the plant is taller than your ladder, wrap the plant with burlap or other fabric and secure it with twine to hold the limbs in place.

While snow is falling, keep these things in mind:

  • Trees that are in leaf or in bloom will catch a lot of snow on these surfaces.  Lightly tap limbs with a long broom handle or extension pole so that snow falls off.  Start at the lower branches so that snow shaken off the higher branches doesn’t weigh them down even more. Doing this several times during the storm may keep branches from reaching the breaking point.
  • Avoid standing or parking cars or placing other property under trees.  Falling branches can cause injury and property damage.

Plan preventive maintenance.  The day before a storm, it’s too late to prune trees as a deterrent to snow storm damage. Plan ahead now and schedule pruning and inspection of trees this growing season. Also, be ready to do winter watering as needed.  Trees and shrubs that are properly maintained will be more durable during heavy storms.

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