• To Clear or Not to Clear – Ask the Expert

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    Schumacher Companies
    Schumachers have been working the soil for generations. The Schumacher family farm in Lexington inspired David’s father, John, to found a landscaping business in 1965 that eventually became one of the largest landscape companies in Massachusetts. David is proud to carry on that tradition with The Schumacher Companies.
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    Each winter we receive a lot of questions from people asking if they should brush the snow off their plants or dig them out. Most of these concerns center around evergreens like arborvitae and junipers. If the snow on your plants is very light and fluffy, you can take a broom and, in an upward motion, very gently sweep the snow off the limbs. Ironically, this light snow that is easily and gently swept from limbs is not the type of snow that causes damage. The snow that damages plants is wet and heavy and, in many cases, is light snow that has melted and refrozen. We strongly urge you not to knock this snow off limbs or attempt to dig these plants out if they are buried. The damage you can do from outweighs any benefits the plant will receive from having the snow or ice removed.

    The force required to remove this heavy snow from woody plants or dig out those that have been buried can easily break the limbs you are trying to help. There is also a great risk of damaging the outer bark, which helps insulate tree and protects it form disease and many invasive insects, and its inner bark or vascular system. When a plant with a damaged vascular system awakens from the winter, there is a risk of the plant starving, hindering its spring growth and development, which puts it at further risk from diseases and insects. In addition, although your plants may be dormant, they are still developing the buds they’ll use for spring growth. Forcefully removing wet sticky snow often removes these buds. And keep in mind that plants buried in the snow are insulated and protected. Additional storm accumulations won’t damage these plants. Throwing shoveled snow on them, however, will. Snow thrown on snow compacts and becomes much more dense increasing its weight per square foot. And if you use salt on your driveway or walkways, you could inadvertently be placing that road salt on your plants. When the spring thaw melts the snow, that salt will embed in your plants’ soil.

    The best way to help your plants is to use preventative measures. In the fall, wrap susceptible plants in burlap or tie them with twine or nylon two-thirds of the way up the trunk. For now, trust that your plants will do best if left alone and that, given enough time, they’ll recover from this record winter just like we will.

    February 20, 2015