So, maybe we should have talked a little about what to do in your garden during a snow event. Well, not to fear…winter isn’t over yet! So, here’s my advice about snow on plant material:
1) If it’s very cold and the snow is dry and light, I advise leaving the snow on. It serves to insulate tissues from freeze damage. Dry and light snow will not weigh down the branches to the degree that heavy wet snow will.
2) If the snow is wet and heavy (i.e. temperatures are not that cold), you should remove as much as possible, especially if the branches are straining under the load. The insulation isn’t necessary, and the weight load can permanently damage trees and shrubs.
Need a little diddy to help you remember? If it’s light – leave it – if it’s heavy – heave it.
(Thanks to Linda Chalker-Scott from The Garden Professors for that!)
The interesting thing about this “snow event” in Seattle – it was accompanied by a lot of ice which changes things quite a bit. Ice on top of snow is very heavy. But then add rain and/or snow on top of the ice and you have a recipe for trouble. Branches can bend out and snap or just bend out and stay out. Either way you have greatly compromised the shape of the plant – not to mention that open wounds (breaks) stress a plant and could hasten it’s demise. So, if possible, it’s better to address the snow and ice on your plants rather than hunker down on the couch with a blanket and a book. A broom works very well to brush off the snow. The branches will pop right back. In the case of ice, crack the shell (with your handy broom again) and break it up as much as possible so when it does start to rain (or snow again) it helps to keep the shell from getting thicker and heavier. Bending is bad, but breaking is worse. A few pre-emptive strikes may mean the difference between your garden popping back from a snow event or forever wearing signs of damage from it.