It may not feel like spring but the sun is higher in the sky and we can finally see a few spots of lawn that has been missing since late January. Right now it's wait and see time for the landscape after this record breaking winter of cold and snow.
This winter will certainly be tough on lawns. Snow generally acts as good insulator against the cold and wind; however we had plenty of rain mixed with the snow to create more ice cover than snow. This could lead to damage that may need to be seeded. Areas of greatest concern will be spots with poor drainage. Ryegrass is particularly sensitive to cold and ice. An additional concern with snow cover is the increased likelihood of snow mold, though typically this damage tends to grow itself out. Vole damage will likely be significant this season. These rodents burrow above the turf, but below the snow pack creating many little trails. They can do some significant damage feeding on ornamentals in the landscape. Plow damage along road edges will need to be repaired and will become potential "hot spots" for crabgrass out breaks in the summer.
Much damage to turf can occur now as the soil begins to thaw. Often the top few inches of the soil profile will be thawed and very wet, while underneath it the soil is still frozen. This situation will make the turf extremely susceptible to damage from foot and vehicle traffic.
Rutting and shearing of the turf will occur. It is advisable to avoid any traffic on turf during these situations.
Trees and Shrubs:
Ornamental trees and shrubs have taken a beating this winter. Physical and mechanical damage will become more and more evident as the snow and ice pack (slowly) recedes.
Any plants that are around the foundation of your home have likely been bent and broken from the weight of the snow, particularly if you had your roof raked off. Although some of the branches might bend back into shape, most will not and may require pruning or bracing to regain shape. There will be some plants that are so badly damaged that replacement may be the only option.
Evergreens will have the added disadvantage of winter desiccation (drying) from the reflection of sun light off of the snow pack. These plants will likely have stunted or dead branches and in some cases, the entire plant might die. The extent of the damage may not be visible until late April or May when the temperatures rise causing the plant to come out of dormancy.
Cleaning up the mess:
We will be getting a late start on clean-ups this spring. Our clean-up season usually begins around March 15th. This year we are hoping to get the full crew back on April 6th, three weeks later than normal. We will be working long days and Saturdays in an effort to catch up and mulching may be delayed.
This delay is made even more likely because there is quite a mess materializing as the snow recedes. In addition to the usual post winter debris there are lots of twigs and broken branches to be removed, gravel, mulch and soil to be replaced, etc. Gravel driveways that were plowed may be damaged and edging ripped up.
This additional work will require extra time and expense to complete. Please let us know if you would like us to survey the damage and advise you as to the need for extra work