Well we finally got that snow we’ve been lacking and a lot of it! We officially got 19.8 inches of snow here on parts of the south shore and more elsewhere on the Island. If you have ventured out you will notice tree limbs drooping due to being over weighted with snow and the first reaction is to brush them off… but beware.
For the best care of your trees with snow-covered branches first allow the sun to start melting the snow and the branches will gradually start to pop back up. If you are able to gently brush off the snow do so but if the snow is frozen on the branches let it melt naturally in order to avoid tree breakage. The tree branches are very fragile right now and can be damaged easily.
As we head into the second half of winter in zone 7 there are a number of outdoor tasks that can be performed in order to ensure the health and vitality of your landscape plants.
Frost Heaving: A usual occurrence in winter is frost heaving. Soil around your perennials freezes and thaws causing your plants to heave up out of the ground. This causes the plant to dry out and become more exposed to the cold, usually leading to the demise of the perennial. An easy remedy is to lightly step on the soil around the plant and add a thin layer of mulch to protect it the roots.
Winter Pruning: Prune ornamental flowering and fruit bearing trees in need of shaping while they are still dormant. Generally, trees that flower after June set their buds in spring and can be pruned while dormant. Early spring-flowering trees set their buds in winter and should be pruned after flowering. In cases where the tree is in desperate need of pruning it is more beneficial to lose a few blooms and prune when the branch structure of the tree is visible and easier to see. Prune out any damaged or crossing branches that could cause injury and jeopardize the health of your tree. Additionally, it is good for the aesthetics, structure and continued flowering of your ornamental trees to give them a good shaping on a regular basis. This task can also be performed in the late winter.
Winter Drying (Desiccation): Check your evergreens for signs of winter drying. If a period of warming and thawing has occurred in mid winter it may be time to apply a second round of anti-desiccant to your broadleaf evergreens such as Holly, Rhododendron, Acuba, Cherry and Skip Laurel, Boxwood and Euonymus. Perform this procedure only if the temperature is going to be above freezing for 24 hours.
As March and April approach there will be more tips on maintaining the garden. For now performing these simple mid-winter procedures will help to ensure the success of your landscape plants.