When making winter plans for your landscape, don’t forget snow removal – from your drive and walkways, not from your trees and shrubs. The latter will be covered in another blog.
How do you remove snow from your drive? Plow? Snow blower? Shovel? The shovel is safest for your plants, but that is the method of choice for only a few of us. The rest prefer the more mechanized approach.
Have you ever watched a plowing contractor plow a driveway? They have to push the snow wherever there is space, and they are usually under tight time constraints. This is not a good combination for your plants. They usually push it into the front yard. If you have a plow contractor, you expect to pull divots from the middle of your front lawn and put them back on the edges.
If a tree or shrub is in the way of this snow push, it will have snow piled up the trunk or stem. This is not good for the plant. For one thing, it is exerting pressure on one side, which can weaken the root system and/or the trunk and, eventually, your plant could uproot and fall over. Snow piled against the trunk or stem makes an ideal hiding place for mice and other small rodents that like to chew on the bark and even the wood. But they don’t like to do it out in the open. They prefer the cover of snow.
Snow blowing can also have an impact on trees and shrubs if they are close enough to the driveway. Blown snow can break branches, pile up against the trunk/stem, and/or pile up at the base and compact the soil. Unlike plowing, however, you can control the snow blower’s chute so that the snow doesn’t hit trees or shrubs.
Constantly adjusting the chute may take a few more minutes than just straight snow blowing, but the results will be much better for your plants and for your home’s curb appeal. As you approach plants, simply move the chute back toward you. When you get perpendicular to the tree, stop and adjust the chute so it blows the snow forward of the tree. The plants will then be in the clear, as will your driveway.
I have been called after the fact too many times. Then, the plants have to be creatively pruned in order to bring them back to shape. Or worse yet, they may have to be removed because they succumbed to the ongoing bombardment of snow against them.