Snow and the Garden

outdoors at Reiman Gardens in winter in the children's garden with the corn crib

The garden under a blanket of snow needs little more than a little admiration from the kitchen window. But there are a few considerations to keep in mind when managing snow and ice in your garden.

  • Snow is a great insulator and helps many fare better in extreme cold.
  • However, too much snow on woody, evergreen, and other plants might weigh down and snap branches. Remove excessive snow by gently sweeping upward with a hand or broom. Never brush downward – you run the risk of breaking already bent and stressed branches.
  • Never attempt to remove ice accumulation from plants. You will do more harm than good.
  • Tie up vulnerable plants before a snow or ice storm to help support branches and create a cone shape that will shed snow easier.
  • Avoid walking on turf or garden beds in the winter.
  • Snow can slide from steep roofs onto plants. Remove snow from the roof, if you can do it safely, or construct a temporary wooden structure to protect the plants.
  • To keep freezing water from expanding and cracking containers, turn them over, cover, or place under roof.
  • When possible, do not use salt. Traditional sodium chloride salts or salt sprays can create toxic soil conditions. Consider using deicers made from calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), or just use sand.
  • Barriers made from burlap or snow fences can prevent salt damage. Also, excess salt can be flushed in spring with water. Also consider planting salt-tolerant plants in areas prone to salting.

Prepared by Aaron Steil, Manager of Public Programs