Bareroot plants and Snowy and Freezing Weather

What To Do When it Snows or Freezes 

You can't beat that first moment, can you, when you wake to a strangely muffled world, pull back the curtains and...aahhh! Deep snow. So pretty, so pristine and...arghh! What's the journey to work going to be like? Ho hum. 

Still, before you set off (leave late; it'll be hell out there, anyway), there are just a few things to do in the garden. 

Unplanted Plants

1. Leave potted plants exactly where they are. A covering of snow will insulate them.

2. As far as bareroot plants are concerned - those that have not been planted that is - either heel them into some soft ground if you can find any or just put them, in their wrapping, somewhere out of the sun and wind. A garage, lean-to or the like is ideal. But under some snow, against the north side of the house, out of the sun will work perfectly well.

Whichever course you follow, leave them alone until the freeze has gone and the ground is soft enough to dig before disturbing them again.

Everything Else

The main concern is the weight of snow (surprisingly heavy, given its light and fluffy first appearance). So, with a broomstick or brush, gently dislodge snow from plants, bushes and trees (don't forget any hedging) to prevent branches being bent or broken. Brush upwards to avoid damaging branches (drawing them down might break wood made brittle by the cold), and don't just madly shake a shrub – all that snow at the top is going to drop like a stone onto the branches below. 

If you sense more snow coming (or, indeed, are well prepared for the first heavy fall) it's a precautionary measure to tie cord, string or even netting around conifers to prevent their branches being pulled down and out. If this does happen, there's usually no remedy but to cut them out once the bad weather is over, as they tend not to spring back. 

Remove snow from netting and fleece to prevent it breaking. Harrod Horticultural offer cunning "Frame Saver" clips which allow netting to fall to the ground, rather than tear when weight or wind come to bear. 

Speaking of netting, are your brassicas protected? Snow isn't the problem here, but pigeons are. They will be seeking easy sources of food if the ground is buried from sight. 

Remove snow from greenhouses to let the light in and take some weight off the roof. For the same reasons remove snow from shed roofs (it can also slide off onto a vulnerable plant below). If you're clearing a path, don't just dump the snow indiscriminately on nearby beds (OK, as if you would) but make sure you avoid plants, as these won't appreciate the extra weight or the extra length of time it'll take for the heap to thaw. 

Try not to walk on your lawn or beds as you risk damaging the grass and soil beneath. We all know how those compacted footprints last long after the fluffy stuff has disappeared. 

Otherwise, just enjoy. Snow really isn't so much of a threat to plants. Far worse is prolonged waterlogging or a long, deep freeze during which they can suffer from drought. Snow insulates plants and the ground from further falling temperatures, often saving them from damage, and a gradual thaw means that plants get a steady watering as it melts. So, we can smile again. 

Just don't think about the forthcoming traffic chaos...

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