Quick Tips to Protect Your Garden from Early Snowfall

Renee Valdes
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Snow mum

Picture this. You’ve got colorful chrysanthemums (mums), pansies and asters in planters, and lettuce, cabbage, collards and kale in your vegetable garden. Your roses continue to bring blooming beauty.

The next thing you know, the weather report calls for unexpected wintry weather.

With early signs of winter appearing, don’t give in or give up on gardening. Start thinking insulation instead. 

Many cold-season vegetables and flowers can survive with protection. Snow even acts as a layer of insulation for veggies such as cabbage, though you may not want to take the chance.

Some easy preparation will help your plants survive the snowy weather.

Cabbage covered in snow

Follow these tips and protect your garden:

  1. Insulate. Create a 2- to 4-inch layer of insulation for your plants with mulch, shredded leaves or any other kind of organic matter to protect the root systems of your plants. Just leave a half inch of space around the base to prevent rot. 
  2. Wrap. Keep plants protected with a row or plant cover, or garden blanket. If nothing else is available on short notice, burlap can also be used. Take caution with roses and stick to insulating only. Roses should not be covered.
  3. Take cover. Don’t leave your plants hanging. Remove your containers, too. Store your plants in covered places such as a porch or patio until the weather passes. The warmth of your home will help keep your containers and hanging plants insulated. Consider keeping your big containers on wheels so you can quickly roll your blooms to safety. 
  4. Resist watering. Water thoroughly several days ahead of the snowfall, if possible. Otherwise, it’s best not to water your plants until temperatures rise above freezing. If you must, try watering early as the day warms up so plants get time to dry out.
  5. Go greenhouse. If you’ve been thinking of investing in a greenhouse, perhaps now is the time to plan for one. Many small greenhouses offer plenty of protection from winter weather.

No matter what, use caution and instincts. If you’re using a snow blower, steer it away from your covered, or uncovered, plants. The weight of excess snow could really do damage. 

Birdhouse in the snow

In case the birds get caught off guard, keep seed handy and consider providing them a place to get out of the cold. That will help them cope along with your plants.

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