Most people imagine that the worst damage from winter for plants comes from ice, but there are often bigger problems at play in wintertime, including desiccation, which is the drying out of plant parts. Some areas of the country are very dry during winter along with having stiff winds, which sets plants up for serious issues.
“The biggest hazard to the landscape and gardens in the winter is the cold,” says Chris Kemp, arborist and plant health care specialist at Piscataqua Landscaping in Kittery, Maine. “A snowless winter with below normal temperatures and a strong wind could potentially desiccate plant buds and plant roots. However, the healthier a plant is going into the winter, the better its chances of being unscathed coming out of the winter and going into the spring.”
“When there is snow covering the lawn, this will protect it against the winter elements. If there is a snowless winter, your lawn could get damaged from the cold and wind,” says Kemp.
Another hazard that’s important to consider is just how much weight your plants can bear, if you live in a place that’s just the opposite of a dry, cold wasteland. Moisture in the winter sometimes comes at a heavy price. If you’re in a climate with heavy ice or snow accumulation, it can be helpful to be keenly aware of the plants that have weaker structures and can break off under heavy snow or ice accumulations. [GWL}