What does this winter mean for my lawn and trees?

Environment Canada says we’ll be getting normal temperatures and snow levels this winter. So winter 2011 will be colder and snowier than 2010. We’re expecting temperatures averaging around  -9c and about  130 to 140 cm of snow over the season. Already, we have had some heavy snowstorms in the GTA.

This is good news for lawns generally, with some things to watch for.

Why snow is good for your lawn

A thick layer of snow acts like a blanket – sheltering and insulating your lawn through the winter. It prevents the ground from drying out and stops ice from damaging the grass crown and roots.

Plus, a wet winter and spring will give your plants a lot more water to grow with when things warm up. 2010’s bone-dry spring gave the weeds a real head start.

What to watch out for

Vole runways - highways of trampled and torn up grass

On the downside, a steady, thick blanket of snow may encourage voles to create their ‘runways’, but that’s minor damage a healthy lawn can easily recover from.

The weight of accumulated snow can damage upwards-growing evergreens, bending the boughs down to the ground. Where possible you should have these shrubs wrapped tightly in protective burlap. A gentle shake or brushing will remove what snow has already built up.

This much snow is not a problem, but watch out for heavier build up

You can gently brush away the snow after a storm

Or you can gently shake the branches

Tightly wrapping your shrubs in burlap will protect them from many forms of winter damage

Debris like leaves and twigs will encourage mould when trapped under the snow cover. So if you were not able to rake or mulch all the leaves on your lawn before the big snows hit, be ready to deal with some damage in the spring.

Grey Snow Mould - image by William M. Brown Jr.,

Learn about spring recovery with our April checklist!

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