Even in snow, a gardener’s work is never done | NevadaAppeal.com

Even in snow, a gardener’s work is never done

JoAnne Skelly
Special to the Appeal

It’s cold! Nighttime temperatures have been in the teens, with daytime temperatures in the 30s-40s. The good news is the snow, not only from a skier’s perspective, but also from a gardener’s perspective.

Diligent green-thumbers have been watering their plants, especially trees, a few times each month through the autumn in preparation for winter. Although the snow added some additional moisture, particularly where it stayed on the ground for a few days, many low areas in town didn’t receive much snow.

Snow may not have fallen at all in outlying areas to the east, while some locations at higher elevations in Carson received 4-5 inches.

I’m one of the lucky ones. In my yard, there are 4 inches of snow slowly melting, soaking the ground around my trees and shrubs. This will save me irrigation work for a few weeks. However, if it didn’t snow much in your yard, you will need to water.

On a day with temperatures in the 40s, dig down 12 inches into the soil to see if the snowmelt penetrated that deep. If not, drag out the hoses and give your trees a good soaking to that 12-inch depth.

Trees and shrubs always do better after winters with a lot of precipitation. What nature doesn’t supply, you have to, or you will see parts of your trees die back next spring and summer. Drought-stressed trees are more susceptible to diseases and insect attacks.

Snow can also bring some challenges for plants. Our first snow was heavy “Sierra cement.” This wet muck can weigh down branches and break them. Use a broom to remove the snow from the branches.

However, don’t knock off the snow from above, as whacking down on a branch covered in heavy snow can rip or break it, damaging the tree. Rather, use the broom to lift up the branch from underneath and gently vibrate the branch to shake off the snow. You may want to wrap shrubs that are under eaves in burlap, stakes and twine or shield them with plywood to protect them from heavy snow falling off the roof.

Another issue that arises during the winter in arid environments. Dave at Greenhouse Garden Center gave me a call to remind me that low humidity causes the water level in ponds to drop, and that pond owners need to refill their ponds on a regular basis.

A gardener’s work is never done!

For more information, e-mail skellyj@unce.unr.edu or call me at 887-2252. You can “Ask a Master Gardener” by e-mailing mastergardeners@unce.unr.edu or call your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at http://www.unce.unr.edu.

• JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.