Snow Warnings and Care of Landscape Plants

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March Snowstorm

The seasons have been shifting in the northeast, leaving many homeowners in much dismay when it comes to winter garden maintenance. Winter storms can hit late winter into early spring, causing more distress to plantings once they have experienced warmer than normal temperatures. As we await another winter storm, there are some precautions you can take to ensure the vitality of your landscape plants and protect them from possible damage.

SNOW WEIGHTED TREE BRANCHES: Most evergreen trees and shrubs can handle snow build-up on their branches, but in the instance of a heavy snow, the branches may become weighted down. Certain Arborvitae are susceptible to the weight of snow pulling down on them and may have already experienced sagging branches. Further damage can easily be avoided by wrapping the branches together with arbor tie. The cloth tie cannot be seen from the outside, will prevent future damage from another snow, and the tree will look unscathed.

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Arborvitae and Snow Care

BROKEN OR DAMAGED TREE BRANCHES: Before an approaching storm, try to walk outside and inspect trees and shrubs on your property for any broken or damaged branches. If you do spot a damaged branch, tie the two split halves together by wrapping them tightly together with arbor tie. Start by wrapping the two halves tightly together and continue wrapping above and below the crack for extra support. If caught in time, the cambium (or growing layer) of the plant will repair itself and fuse the two parts of the damaged branch together. I have personally saved split branches on holly, azalea and arborvitae using this technique and the plants have recovered beautifully. Identifying these issues now and tending to them prior to the snow can mean the survival of your plant.

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Arbor Tied Split Branch on Holly

SNOW REMOVAL: While it is tempting to go outside and start removing snow from weighted branches it is also a good time to exercise caution. Under the snow-covered branches could also be a frozen layer of ice.  Any manipulating of the frozen branches could result in easy breakage and permanent damage to your tree.  A helpful tip is to very carefully dig snow from around trapped branches and allow them to spring back up on their own. Never shake branches with ice.  It is best to let nature take its course and allow thawing to occur. The branches will gradually regain their shape as the ice melts preventing any harm to your landscaping.

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Snow Removal From Branches

SPRING BULBS AND SNOW:  Just as your spring bulbs are emerging, a late winter snow storm in March can cause much distress and uncertainty. Besides having to tend with the snow, there is some reassuring news!  While mulch protects dormant bulbs from cold, once they start blooming, a covering of snow will act as an insulator. The snow will help to hold in the natural warmth from the soil and provide protection. Once the snow is gone, you can continue to enjoy your bulbs!

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Spring Bulbs and Snow Cover

As mentioned previously, plants are very resilient, and with a little care can bounce back and recover nicely after a major snow. With a March snow on the way, warmer days may not look promising at the moment, but Spring is right around the corner!

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Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee 2017. All Rights Reserved.page-divider-autumn

Repairing Storm Damaged Trees: Some Helpful Tips

Storm Damaged Branch on Weeping Japanese Maple

Hurricanes such as the recent Hurricane Sandy have caused extensive damage to landscape trees along the northeastern coastline.  This Weeping Japanese Maple was a victim to the gale force winds and has suffered major damage to one of its limbs.  Every year extensive damage can occur to tree branches from factors such as hurricanes, ice storms and lightning. If you have experienced similar damage here are a few tips for repairing weakened trees that I hope you find useful.

Storm Damage to Tree Bark

Torn and Peeled Bark:  Repairing torn and peeled bark on your damaged trees in a timely manner can help to preserve their vitality. To remove crevices for moisture accumulation or hiding places for insects use a sharp chisel or knife to smooth the ragged edges where the bark has been torn (see diagram).  Clean ragged wounds and smooth out the area as much as possible so that healing can start.  If possible try to form an elliptical shape without cutting too deeply.  The underlying greenish inner bark (cambium layer) should start the repair process.  If the damaged area is less than twenty five percent of the circumference of the branch the tree should heal over time with no permanent damage. Anything more could be too much and could lead to eventual removal of the limb.  Avoid the usage of any wound sealants or coatings.  There has been recent controversy about the use of wound sealants over the past few years.  Recent studies have shown that sealants may not help in speeding up the healing process but may actually hinder it.  Also as the sealant breaks down possible crevices may form allowing moisture to accumulate.   This can lead to possible fungal infection and further damage to the tree.

U.S. Department Of Agriculture

Damage to Branches:   If the tree branch is severely damaged beyond repair it is best to remove it completely.  First prune smaller branches (less than 3 inches) where they meet larger ones using clean cuts with loppers or larger branches with a saw or chain saw.   Use the three cut method first making an undercut 12- 18 inches from the main stem to relieve some of the pressure of the branch.  Then make two more cuts, one closer to the  main branch (2-3 inches away) then a final smooth flush cut where the branch meets the collar as shown in the diagram.  The tree will form a protective callus tissue and heal itself.

Uprooted Trees:  Smaller trees can be saved if one third to one half of their root system is still in the ground.  Remove some of the soil around the root mass and push upright using several helpers or equipment.  Fill in the soil and cable the tree in place using two to three guide wires and anchors into the soil.  Water the tree to keep it in place and remove air pockets.  It is usual to keep the cables on for one year then remove them as the tree grows.  A spring feeding can help the tree to regain strength and encourage new growth. Following these practices can allow your tree to heal and help to ensure the extended lifetime of your landscape plants.

Author: Landscape Design By Lee Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.