Everything I’ve read or heard indicates that we’ll have a mild winter, thanks to El Nino. My humble prediction is that we won’t experience as much dieback as we did last winter. If we have a lot of freeze and thaw cycles, however, we may see more fungal lawn diseases.
What should you do to prepare your landscape plants? Take maximum precautions and you should be pleased in spring. If it is a difficult winter, you’ll be satisfied that you did all you could to protect your plants. If it’s a mild winter, you’ll be pleased that your valuable plants fared well.
Problems could arise, even if the winter is mild. If we have an extended warm spell, like we had several years ago, leaf or flower buds could break prematurely. While this isn’t dangerous, the plants will have wasted valuable, stored food to push a flush of leaves or flowers that won’t last. If we have frequent freezing and thawing, thin bark trees could suffer frost cracks. Most of these, also, do not present a health risk for the tree. In time, they’ll callus over.
Constantly wet grass is a good breeding ground for fungal diseases that attack turfgrass in winter. Winter lawn diseases include dollar spot, brown patch, gray snow mold and fairy rings. Besides the extreme temperatures, an extended warm spell followed by a cold snap with rain, snow or ice, can also promote diseases. Like trees and shrubs that break buds during a long warm spell, turfgrass could break dormancy, chlorophyll could return and photosynthesis begin for that short time. That would be like a four star restaurant for those little fungi.
There is nothing you can do to prevent the problems listed above. However, each is quite minor as landscape problems go. More important than fretting the small stuff is to be sure you’ve protected your trees from wind, ice and snow with a tree hazard inspection by a Certified Arborist. I covered this in another blog. If you’ve done everything you can, just enjoy the (hopefully) mild winter, unless you’re a winter sports enthusiast.