A Tale of Two Winters

We all remember last winter's snow and bitter cold and what a contrast it is to this winter.  Although the winter seasonal forecast was for a colder than normal winter this year due to the similarity to last year's La Nina pattern, the two winters could not contrast any more differently.  Last January was the Second Coldest on Record and quite snowy while this January was the Second Warmest on Record .  What a difference a year makes. 

This is good news and bad news in the landscape.  Last winter was tough on landscapes with snow and ice damage to some trees and shrubs and put our winter clean-up behind with most of January with snow on the ground.  This year's mild weather has had little impact on plants and our winter clean-up and pruning is on schedule, but the season is earlier than expected.  The warm weather has many plants beginning to bud out and lawns are growing.  It will be a challenge this spring to keep up with the earlier warmer weather.  The forecast is for continued warm temperatures.

We normally only mow once in February and our strategy is to hold off on mowing as long as possible.  Mowing is a natural stimulus for the grass to grow more rapidly and mowing too early can cause trouble if the weather turns and gets wet in late February or March.  Instead, we will continue to get our pruning and bed preparation going as our pre-emergence weed control needs to get done as soon as possible as weeds still start to grow earlier than normal too.  We will likely edge before mowing to help get properties looking sharper. 

There are also some forecast models still predicting a cold wet end of winter and early spring so don't think we are completely out of the woods yet.  "The Models are trying to bring colder air South after the 13-16th so if correct, we would see a very cold and unsettled 2nd half to Feb." Phil Volker, ERF Weather Forecasts

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