Winter and the Landscape

The following Horticulture article printed in the 2021 Spring edition of the Oldham County Extension Newsletter.

icy winter landscape

Winter is a time of stress on the landscape plants. Unless there is breakage caused by the weight of ice or snow, we often will not see the damage until spring. Evergreen plant foliage is often damaged by wind and extreme shifts in the temperature. This appears as leaf or leaf edges drying as well as leaf or needle drop.

Evergreen plants continue active uptake of water unless the ground is frozen. To reduce the effects of winter, add mulch to protect the soil from drying out, and apply additional water (if needed) when temperatures are above freezing. Trees and shrubs require up to one inch of water per week while actively growing. Although the rate of active growth reduces in winter, the ground moisture level should remain the same. Areas close to the home, often sheltered from rain, may require additional irrigation year round.

Damage due to ice and snow should be cleaned up as soon as the weather permits to avoid further injury to other parts of the plant. Where possible, brush excess snow off the foliage to prevent damage or breakage due to the weight. Ice coatings should be allowed to melt on the own. Trying to knock ice off could further damage the plant.

Extra care during the winter will protect plants in the landscape, and they will recover looking their best.

Written by Michael Boice, Oldham County Horticulture Assistant, and edited by Lauren Fernandez, Oldham County Extension Program Assistant.

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