Though I appreciate every season of the year in some way, shape, or form, winter is one of my least favorites simply due to the havoc it creates in the garden. Snow, wind, and ice damage can ruin existing perennials and harsh conditions like these can be hard for plants to bounce back from. However, gardeners shouldn’t despair! There are a few common spring solutions for winter damage in the garden, just keep reading to see what they are. And I don’t know about you, but knowing these solutions are out there helps me enjoy the snow when it comes. Let’s get started!
Spring Solutions For Winter Damage
Sun Scald and Frost Cracks
Sunscald usually occurs in early March, when there is snow on the ground, but the sun is beginning to warm things up. The heat from the sun, combined with the reflection create burn and frost cracks on many plants. For example, gardeners may notice pine trees browning on one side. This is usually because of sun scald or winter burn. Though gardeners might be tempted to prune these plants immediately, it’s best to wait until May. If you wait until May, these dead branches may rebloom. If you notice in May that no new growth is occurring, now is a good time to prune. As for frost cracks, gardeners should just leave them be. The plant will heal itself later in the year.
It’s always heartbreaking to see one of your favorite trees lose a limb due to heavy winter damage from wind, snow, or ice. It happened to my grandmother’s cherry blossom not too long ago, and it was devastating! Though it may be tempting to prune back broken branches immediately, it’s best to leave them be (unless a hazard exists) until the end of May. Pruning will also stimulate new growth, so it’s best to do that when temps have warmed up to better suit the new growth.
Frost heave happens when your soil repeatedly freezes and thaws, causing plant roots to pull up out of the ground. The upheaval of the soil roots often leaves them exposed to harsh conditions. To correct come Spring, replant just as soon as the soil thaws. Add mulch to the top few inches of soil, to protect tender roots as they heal throughout Spring.
Salt burn is the worst! Because we had so much snow this season, all of the plants surrounding my driveway were affected. To fix plants affected by salt burn, “flush” the area with two inches of clean water every two to three hours. Repeat the process over three days later. If you do not flush the area, plants may become compacted in salt. This will make them unable to grow with the lack of nutrients they are receiving. Prevent the problem next year by piling snow in an area away from plants.