Let it snow, let it snow, let in snow … tips for handling the big freeze!

Don’t panic.  Snow can be a gardener’s worst enemy but there are some simple steps to avoiding disaster in the garden.

Snow Is Heavy

So go round and tap it off branches, trees and hedges before it gets a chance to freeze in situ.  If left unattended to, it can cause branches to snap.  You can use lengths of string to support conifer branches as a way of preventing them from being pulled out of shape since branches that get pulled away from the main plant will not be able to bounce back when the snow has gone.  If snowfall is heavy, remove it from the roofs of cold frames and greenhouses to let light in and to protect them from the extra weight.


Try not to walk on a snowy lawn – you’ll only damage the grass underfoot and leave unsightly marks.  Far better to wait for the thaw, when it will be able to revive itself.  Snow is a good insulator against frost so isn’t in it too harmful.

Snow Means Ice

Check your outside tap is insulated before the cold weather comes.  Pay attention to sources of water for wildlife – keep your bird bath refreshed with water and put a ball into a garden pond to stop the surface icing over.

Minimize Snow Damage

If you live in an area prone to severe weather, avoid planting the tenderest plants such as golden or variegated leaf varieties, opting for hardy plants that thrive locally.  Keep away from high nitrogen fertilizers too since these will encourage sappy leafy growth – exactly the sort of growth most susceptible to frost damage.

Be aware that it is often the plants that face the morning sun that might be damaged since they often thaw too quickly causing the cell walls to rupture.    Choose sheltered sites such as under large trees or against walls to place more tender specimens  and remember that cold air and frost always settles in the lowest point of the garden so avoid these areas with all but the most hardy of plants.   Leave old growth on tender plants unpruned until the danger of frost is past.  In this way, you’ll protect the heart of the plant, the central crown.

Snow And Garden Furniture

If you have metal garden furniture, the harsh weather will present no problems at all.  In fact, I happen to like the look of a metal chair against the snow!  Wooden tables and chairs fare a little worse.  Snow won’t damage them in itself, but it isn’t a good idea to leave it lingering on wooden surfaces. The water will eventually seep into the grain.  Keep wooden garden furniture brushed off.

Is snow forecast?