Snow and it's Effect on Plants


Like many things, too much or too little of anything can be bad. The same can be said of snow. 

On the one hand, snow can be extremely beneficial to plants. A blanket of snow can act as an insulator, protecting the roots of your plants. This can save them from the heave of the freeze and thaw, which happens often here in the Midwest. When the ground fluctuates between frozen and thaw, the roots of many plants can be forced out of the ground, and this will have a detrimental effect on your plants, possibly killing them. 

Another huge benefit of snow is the moisture. Snow provides much-needed water to plant roots, both during the Winter season and well into the Spring growing season. If there is a slow warm up, this water is available for a long period of time and is very manageable for plants to take up. Much of the water soaks into the underground aquifer and becomes available later in the season.

Our last few winters have been seriously lacking in snow, and it was evident once Spring hit. Many plants were weakened from a drought state over the winter and never recovered. So if lack of snow is an issue, don't forget that your plants still need water!

On the other hands, too much snow can affect your plants in other destructive ways. Too much moisture can lead to soggy areas, which in turn are more prone to problems with the freeze and thaw. Laying a heavy layer of mulch before winter can save your plants!

Another issue is the weight of the snow. This can cause branches to break and damage to plant structure. Be on the lookout for this problem - sometimes simply sweeping snow off your plants can alleviate this                                                                                                    issue!

Krysta Mueggenburg

Element Turf & Outdoor Solutions, LLC

Alton, IL