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How to handle heavy snow on shrubs

By: Garden Gate staff
When lots of snow falls quickly, it builds up on the branches and foliage of evergreen trees and shrubs. The stress can deform the branches or even snap them off.

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Heavy snow and ice on shrubs

When lots of snow falls quickly, it builds up on the branches and foliage of evergreen trees and shrubs. The stress can deform the branches or even snap them off. But don’t try to knock snow or ice from frozen branches with brooms or rakes. The impact could cause the branches to snap off. When the weather warms, gently shake the snow and ice off by hand if it doesn’t fall off on its own. Or brush it off with a broom using gentle, upward strokes to keep from breaking the branches.

Snow and ice can also build up on roof eaves during storms. Then, when the sun comes out and the weather warms, big chunks of softened, melting snow and ice slip from the eaves and come crashing down on the brittle plants below.

If you have this problem, to prevent broken limbs and torn bark, put up a barrier sturdy enough to take the impact and deflect the snow and ice away from the plant. Thin wooden snow fenc­ing, like the kind used in the photo above, makes a good screen for areas whose roofs get a light packing of snow. If you expect heavier accumulations, cover your shrubs with “sandwich boards” made of two pieces of 3/4-in. exterior grade plywood, hinged together at the top. The A-frame structure will keep falling snow from damaging the shrub. It will also act as a windbreak and sun shield for the plant and keep melting ice from dripping onto branches and freezing.

Published: Jan. 18, 2011
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