The latest cold snap probably shocked your early blooming daffodils; Spring has officially started, but the thermostat says otherwise at the moment. Mother Nature tries to adhere to a calendar, but at the end of the day, we are at her mercy. Over all, our weather is considerably more hospitable this time of year, but there may still be a few more surprises, as evidenced by our recent snow storm.
It’s time to prepare your blooming fruit trees, vegetables or flowers from these potential cold snaps. There are several methods of protection for your landscape while the weather remains in flux. It’s important to note that it doesn’t have to freeze for plants to be damaged by frost. It just has to get cold enough for water vapor to condense on cold plants that have been chilled.
Young trees or varieties of trees that have thin bark, (some fruit trees fall in this category), as well as the evergreens and firs are very susceptible to branches breaking from the heavy wet snow that often happens in the springtime. The best way to remove the snow is to gently brush the snow off by hand or with a broom with upward strokes. Gently shaking the branches can also be done, but this needs to be done carefully. Branches can be brittle during the winter months, so you could be doing more harm than good. You can also remove snow throughout the snow event to make removal easier and minimize the weight that’s on your plants at any given time.
There are many varieties of plants that can handle the sudden cold temperatures, such as azaleas, hollies and pansies – these can survive without any covering, but anything that has tender new growth or your seedlings should be protected. Applying a thin layer of mulch to your new plants acts like an insulator, keeping plants moist and warm. This is the best course of action for trees, shrubs and your sprouting perennials. However, make sure to keep the mulch at least a few inches from the plant to avoid rot.
It’s important to note that you should try to avoid using plastic to cover your plants, unless they are seedlings and will only be covered for a very short period of time. If you do decide to use plastic, make sure its black and not clear. If you’re planning on leaving it for more than one day, clear plastic has to be removed because it can create a greenhouse effect. Black, on the other hand, reflects light and can be left on for a few days. Optimally, however, plastic should not be the first choice since it can hold moisture against the leaves and cause additional unintended freeze damage.
Instead, use a covering that’s more insulating so that it captures the heat from the ground. To cover plants with newly formed flower buds or warm season vegetable plants, use an old sheet or a light piece of cloth, but make sure it doesn’t directly come in contact with the plants. Use sticks or stakes to keep it suspended, and drape the cloth to the ground securely so that the heat from the ground remains insulated.
Give us a call now while the weather continues to be unpredictable. We will help you determine how to best protect the new fragile growth in your garden that will be the mainstay of your garden this Spring and Summer.
Sunrise Landscape and Design is Northern Virginia’s premier landscape company offering a full range of landscape services. Our landscape and design services include hardscapes, water features, irrigation and landscape lighting. Our landscape maintenance services will keep your landscape vibrant and healthy year round with mulching, edging, garden cleanups, lawn mowing, tree pruning and mosquito/deer control. Contact us today for all your landscape and lawn care needs!