Ice presents the biggest risk of winter weather damage to landscaping. Extremely cold temperatures can cause small or large patches of ice to stay on your lawn and plants for weeks. This can damage your grass and plants. It also invites injuries as people are more likely to slip on ice. Here are some proven effective ways to prevent snow and ice buildup that can damage your landscape.
1. Reduce Foot Traffic.
Under heavy ice and snow, grass and plants become brittle and easily uprooted and vulnerable to fungal diseases. Walking on fragile frozen grass packs snow more densely onto your lawn, increasing the density of the snow blanket and causing it to take longer to melt. Prolonged melting increases the likelihood of snow refreezing as ice when temperatures fall at night. Then, the ice-packed grass is even harder to walk on without damaging your lawn. Minimizing foot traffic helps snow stay light and melt quicker. So, encourage everyone to use the same pathway to the door of your home.
2. Remove Snow.
Using a shovel to dig and pitch snow can damage grass roots. So, be very careful when shoveling on your lawn. Most snow-related landscape damage is caused by people using shovels, snowplows, and snow blowers. Pushing, or mechanically blowing snow creates a manmade snow cover - a denser than normal snow cover - which is, therefore, slower to melt and more prone to refreezing as ice. Heavy, dense snow and can damage grass and even break strong plants and shrubs. Use a snow blower, if possible, to move snow. It's a less harmful solution for grass and plants than other snow removal methods.
3. Keep Your Roof and Rain Gutters Clear.
Remove snow from your roof, if it is possible to do so safely. Allowing heavy accumulation of snow and ice to remain on your roof can increase risk of large piles of snow sliding off onto your plants from gravity or high winds. A large mass of falling snow can destroy plants near your house. And, piles of snow from the roof, compacted by hitting the ground, are more likely to refreeze as heavy, plant-damaging ice. Additionally, eliminating an extreme snow load from your roof protects your home's structure.
4. Break Ice Patches as They are Forming.
Thick sheets of ice can build up during ice storms, rapid thawing and refreezing. Thicker ice is more damaging to landscaping. If tree limbs or trunks are bent or breaking under heavy ice or snow, then severe damage can result. Break up ice, being careful not to damage plants. And, gently shake off or push off heavy snow. Watch for areas where water is accumulating, and break up ice formations with a hammer or other tool. Be careful of slip hazards.
5. Use appropriate materials for melting ice.
Use sand or clay-based kitty litter to melt snow and ice from walkways and driveways, if necessary for safety, or to prevent buildup that may damage grass and plants along the edges. Using salt can damage grass and plants when it is washed off of your driveway or sidewalk and onto your landscape by the melting ice or snow.
Keep in Mind
Don't be concerned about natural blankets of snow or windblown drifts. Leave these as they are, even if the snow is deep, as long as none of your plants are bent or nearly breaking.
- Naturally occurring snow cover acts as insulation.
- And, as snow melts, it provides needed water to thirsty plants during the winter.
- So, only remove snow or ice from plants that are bent or breaking.
And, remember that it is actually the increasing of snow density of snow by shovel, machine (or foot traffic) which most strongly promotes ice patches that can endanger people, grass, and plants.
For More Information
If you would like more information about preventing ice patches in your landscaping, or about other measures to protect your investment in your landscaping, contact Irrigation Outlet to speak to one of our experts. We are here to answer all of your questions.