The winter of 2019 has had us contending with ice almost as much as with snow. An ice storm occurs when the air in which the water molecules form in the sky is warm and the layers through which the rain falls is cold enough to freeze the precipitation as it falls.
Results of an ice storm are probably well known to you. Ice collects on tree limbs causing them to break and fall on icing power lines. The streets become slick and therefore dangerous to traverse by car, sidewalks become slippery for walking pedestrians, and lawns and gardens are covered with ice that can present a threat to plants’ wellbeing.
When Does Ice And Snow Present A Problem?
Falling or windblown drifts of snow is not really a problem for plants. In fact, the snow cover provides a blanket of insulation for them.
When snowplows, shovels, or snow blowers are used to remove snow from sidewalks, driveways, or streets, the pushed or mechanically blown snow is collected in dense and slow to melt piles, which become heavy. If pushed up against plants or shrubs, it can cause damage. Avoid the problem by simply not pushing snow onto shrubs and garden.
Removing snow from the roof and piles of snow that may fall from the roof onto shrubs and garden can also avoid issues. If your shrubs are located under a steep roof, then you can prevent issues even more with a temporary wooden frame situated over the shrubs to protect them.
Heavy snow and ice can cause branches of trees to break or at least weigh them down making it difficult for them to spring back. In addition, fallen snow can melt and then freeze forming ice. Use a broom or your hands to gently sweep the snow from shrubs and plants. It is suggested that you sweep in an upward motion to loosen the snow and then allow it to fall. Sweeping downward can cause bent branches to snap. Keep in mind that the snow and ice have made branches very brittle and stressed, so disturb them as little as possible.
The best way to protect shrubs and garden is to brush away the snow after no more than 2-inches of accumulation instead of waiting until it’s deep.
It’s best to leave ice alone. Attempting to remove it may cause damage to shrubs and plants. Once ice is formed, just leave it and let it melt over time.
Keep in mind when salting the surface of your driveway that the salt can damage plants. Make certain not to get the salt on plants and, if you do, rinse them well with water as soon as temperatures are above freezing. Avoid the problem by using sand or a clay-based kitty litter on your driveway rather than salt.
Finally, prune damaged limbs from trees and shrubs as soon as the ice melts.