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How Snow Droughts Impact Landscaping

A snow drought may seem like a positive for your operations until you realize the lack of snow can negatively impact your facilities’ landscapes. Snow is a natural insulator for the ground and the roots that grow within it. If temperatures drop below freezing and your landscape has no coverage, you might be at risk for a bleak spring.

Why Snow is Beneficial to Your Facilities' Operations

Cold and harsh weather conditions can make a large impact on your landscape. When temperatures are frigid and your plants have no insulation, there is nothing to protect the ground and keep it hydrated in the dry weather. However, because snow accumulates at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it protects the soil from temperatures below freezing and the damage that comes with it.

Plants freeze and thaw repeatedly during the weather fluctuations in the winter. When plants ice over, the water within their cells become ice crystals. After the cell is in a frozen form, it is punctured and misshapen after thawing. Cellular damage stifles a plant’s life and ability to grow.

Hydration is also a necessity for plants to thrive and roots to grow. Snow plays an important role in insulating a landscape during the dry spells of the winter. When the weather fluctuates, snow melts and seeps into the soil. After thawing and melting, the moisture fends off dehydrated plants and frozen roots.

Although snow can be helpful to your facilities landscapes, it also brings inevitable risks for your facilities.

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How Can I Avoid the Risks of a Snow Drought?

To avoid negative effects from the lack of snow in the winter, work with vendors who can nurture a landscape with the following advice:

  • Continue to irrigate your facilities’ landscapes into the winter: Just as the winter months leave our skin dry, the cold weather shrivels up plants and roots, too. Keeping your irrigation system on until your soil freezes can keep moisture in the soil and maintain your plants through the dormant months. Landscape hydration also counters the effect of the salt on the ground intended to melt ice on the roads.
  • Receive mulch installation to protect your plants: It can be difficult to predict how much snow will fall in an upcoming winter. When you add mulch services to your vendor’s scope of work, your landscape will have a backup if snow does not accumulate as you expected. Not only does mulch insulate the ground, it serves as a barrier that locks in hydration and stops moisture from escaping through evaporation.
  • Be proactive with the plants in your landscape: By requesting your vendor to incorporate frost tolerant plants, you can rest assured that your landscape has a better chance of regeneration in the spring. The plants with the lowest numbers have a higher chance to withstand colder temperatures. Frost tolerant plants include flowers like forget-me-nots and sweet alyssums; shrubs like caladiums and hostas; and native plants like blue paradise.
  • Don’t forget about the plants under your buildings’ eaves: Plants that surround your building tend to be drought stressed throughout the year. The shrubs left in the shadows of your building don’t receive as much snowfall as the rest of your landscape so it might be beneficial to have a vendor install mulch near the perimeter of the building. If snow falls, take advantage of the extra snow in the parking lots or walkways and use it to hydrate the plants that lack protection.

How Do These Practices Benefit My Company?

Using a few of these practices can eliminate the need to hire a contractor for last minute landscape rejuvenation. Any way you slice it, reactive maintenance is ineffective, costly, time-consuming and stressful.

If you want more reasons to consider proative maintenance in your facilities, check out our blog that shares four ways preventative maintenance pays off.

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