University of Illinois Extension

 


Bruce Spangenberg

Extension Educator, Horticulture, Rockford Extension Center

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Pros and Cons of Snow

As spring slowly advances, many gardeners do not want to see any more snow. One major benefit of a good snow cover is snow functions as an excellent insulator of the soil. Without snow, very cold temperatures can freeze soil deeper and deeper. This could lead to damage of root systems of trees and shrubs. The insulation effect of snow also helps protect perennials, bulbs, ground covers, and strawberry plantings from alternating freezing and thawing cycles when milder temperatures and sun could warm the soil surface, leading to damage from soil heaving. Snow also helps conserve soil moisture over the winter.

There are a few drawbacks to snow. Heavy snow can damage trees and shrubs as the weight accumulates on branches. Carefully brush off snow from branches. The other drawback of snow in the landscape is small animals, such as voles (field mice) are protected from predators. These pests may gnaw on tender bark at the base of young tree trunks and the stems of shrubs. Voles also will tunnel on the surface of lawns under the snow, making very visible winding trails as the snows melt in spring. Rabbits will also be more likely to feed on tender bark of shrubs and young trees when the ground is covered with snow.

Another positive on snow is the enhanced visibility of some landscape plantings. Trees and shrubs with ornamental bark, such as red twig dogwood or river birches, look more brilliant. Ornamental grasses left standing from last season are much more visible. Evergreens may look much greener, especially when a bright red cardinal is sitting in them.

February–March 2000: Are You Ready To Garden? | Pros & Cons Of Snow | Color In The Flower Garden | Butterfly Gardening

 

Past Issues

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