Now that winter’s really kicking in, many of us face the yearly challenge of shoveling the accumulated snow from our property without damaging the hidden landscape we spent the rest of the year perfecting. Use the following tips to help keep your plants safe:
- Constrain your shovel to the hard surfaces you need for moving in and around your landscape. Shoveling garden and landscape areas is likely to do more harm than good. If your region receives heavy snow fall, you may want to remove snow directly from trees and shrubs, but a shovel won’t help there.
- Use driveway reflectors to mark the boundaries of surfaces you do plan to shovel. That will help you know where to stop shoveling in order to avoid accidentally nicking or cutting the plants that line walkways or driveways.
- All of that shoveled snow has to go somewhere, but it doesn’t have to go onto the plants in your landscape. Plan your pile strategically to avoid placing additional weight on snow-covered plants or mini-avalanches onto nearby trees. Also avoid heaping it near walkways where it might spill into the path of pedestrians.
- If you’re using a snow blower rather than a shovel, be careful about where you direct the spray of snow. Never aim it at other people, of course, but also be sure that you’re not casting heaps of snow onto trees and shrubs, particularly if they’re already burdened with snow and ice. The force of thrown snow and the extra weight it adds, could break branches or even the trunks of plants.
- Keep an eye on gutters and street drains to ensure that they’re not blocked or clogged. Melting snow needs somewhere to escape. Otherwise, it might pool in your yard, where subsequent freezes can turn it into plant-killing ice.
- If salting is part of your post-shoveling routine, be careful about the amount and distribution you use. In particular, bear in mind that as upstream snow and ice melts, the flowing water will carry that salt along with it—possibly onto your plants. Sand can be a less destructive alternative to salt, but in either case, use just enough to keep ice from forming on walkways, and leave a safe zone between it and your more vulnerable plants.
Most of all, be safe when shoveling snow. Stretch beforehand, dress appropriately and use the right equipment, and don’t overdo it just to finish more quickly. You’re no good to your landscape if you’re laid up all spring from injuries you received trying to protect it in the winter.