Winter is a harsh time for landscapes, especially in Monroe, NY, where snow and frost can wreak havoc on your yard. However, taking the right steps before the onset of winter, or even during it, can minimize the damage and keep your yard usable, safe, and ready to bloom to its fullest come spring.
Trimming your plants
Winter is the optimal time to give most trees and shrubs a trim. This is especially relevant for larger trees which have to be trimmed to ensure the branches don’t collapse under the weight of snow. This has the additional advantage of reducing the resources your plants need to survive during winter when the uptake of water and nutrients is slower. Perennials should be cut back to minimize the damage from the cold and frost. Lawns should be mown back to the minimum height recommended for the particular species of grass. Lastly, weeds, deadwood, and leaves should all be cleared up to the full extent to minimize the competition for nutrients.
Protecting plants from frost
Frost can be disastrous for a number of plant species, especially those not native to the area. To minimize damage from frost, plants should ideally be pruned once temperatures are low to push them into dormancy. Pruning in fall can cause a growth spurt, sapping the plants of vital resources and making them more susceptible to frost damage. More sensitive plants should be covered with windbreaks made of canvas or burlap. This, coupled with mulching, will protect the leaves and the roots of your plants, leaving them ripe for growth come spring.
To make sure your plants survive through winter, a steady supply of nutrients is essential. Ideally, consult a professional contractor or arborist to conduct a soil analysis for your yard and recommend an appropriate fertilizer. Mulching is an excellent way to keep your flower beds supplied with nutrients while also providing a blanket to protect the sensitive roots.
Driveways and walkways
Masonry can often suffer through the winter, revealing enlarged cracks and loose tiles and pavers once the snow has been cleared. This mostly occurs due to moisture getting into small cracks and expanding as ice when the temperature falls below zero, exacerbating the cracks.
The best way to mitigate this is to have a professional give your masonry a thorough check at the onset of winter. Cracks should be filled with mortar or alternative filler depending on the material in question. To finish it off, a sealant can be applied across the surface to prevent water from getting into the smaller cracks.
Avoid using corrosive de-icing chemicals
Many de-icing products contain chemicals that can be damaging to hardscape surfaces. In addition, salts and chemicals making their way into the soil can slow down the uptake of water and nutrients by plantings, resulting in leaves drying up and stunted growth in the spring. To avoid this, invest in a professional snow removal service and ice management program.