Most of the time, you do not have to worry as snow can be a great insulator and will provide needed water to dry plants. The exception is when the snow is heavy and there is ice buildup, as it can cause major damage if limbs and trunks bend or break.
Safely Remove Snow from Shrubs and Plants
- Sweep gently. With a broom or use your hands, very gently sweep in an upward motion, loosening the snow and allowing it to fall. Don’t sweep downward, as you might break a bent branch that is already broken, and don’t shake the plant. The branches will be very brittle and already stressed, so disturb them as little as possible.
- Don’t wait for snow to accumulate. There will be less damage to your plants if you remove snow after every couple of inches of accumulation, rather than waiting until its deep.
- Leave Ice Alone. It is better to not remove any ice from plants as it can cause more damage; branches are likely to break. Therefore once ice has formed, just wait it out.
How to Prevent Damage to Lawns and Plants
- Keep Off the Grass. Snow-covered grass is fragile, can easily be uprooted, and is susceptible to fungal diseases under the snow. Reduce foot traffic on the lawn, this should help the snow stay light and melt faster, and keep your grass blades firmly rooted.
- Avoid Salt: Salt can damage lawns and plants. If your plants have been exposed to salt, rinse them well as soon as temperatures are above freezing. Next time, use sand or clay-based kitty litter instead of salt.
- Tie Up Plants: Before the snow, use plant netting to tie up the branches of your conifers and soft shrubs. This will prevent them from getting broken by the snow. Tie them in a cone shape, to deflect snow off to the sides. Prune any damaged branches
- Move Planters and Containers: Bring them indoors: Dig up tender bulbs and store them in a cool dry place.
- Beware of Snowplows. As they can damage plants and shrubs.
- Water Plants. Water plants thoroughly before a freeze to prevent desiccation and to add insulating water to the soil and plant cells.