What a Warm and Dry Winter Means for Your Yard and Garden

What a Warm and Dry Winter Means for Your Yard and Garden

We’ve been hearing a lot about El Niño as a major influencer of this winter’s weather outlook, although when it comes to Calgary there is never any guarantee. Broadly speaking, an El Niño pattern means that the jet stream, instead of being one continuous course of high speed air driving Pacific storms over Canada, is split into two flows. It can mean a relatively mild winter, with plenty of Chinooks coming our way. But with or without El Niño, there is just no telling what we will get in Calgary.

Mirage Landscaping has been specializing in Calgary landscaping design, constructionmaintenance, and snow removal services for three generations. There are as many implications of a warmer than average winter than one with heavy snow and frigid temperatures for your trees, shrubs, and lawn.

El Niño Conditions And Your Spruce Trees

Unlike deciduous trees, evergreen trees and shrubs do not enter a full dormancy state over the winter. Warm and dry days, with high winds and a lack of snowfall, are harmfully dehydrating to these species. As November and early December progress, and if we haven’t seen any meaningful dip or stay below freezing, you may want to consider a slow and deep root soaking of your evergreens to give them the overwinter moisture they will need to not become distressed. The trick is to soak the water in slowly, avoiding any puddling or run off which could become hard ice, both above and a few centimeters below the ground, during a sudden cold snap. 

Deciduous Trees and the Warm Winter

These trees will have dropped most of their leaves and are in various stages of dormancy. If we have not yet had a hard frost, you can still water these trees in the same method as described for evergreens. Deciduous trees are not seeking water in the winter. What you are doing by watering them is offering them the root protection they will be missing by not having snow on the ground. Moist soil moves the local frost line closer to the surface than where it would be in dry soil. Moistened soil, just as the tree receives from the melt water during a Chinook, also insulates the tree’s roots against freezing by creating exterior ice crystals on the root surface rather than hard freezing the water retained deep within the roots themselves.

Your Warm Winter Lawn

If your lawn doesn’t face human or pet traffic, and you don’t already have deer or rabbits visiting, your lawn won’t miss having any snow cover for most of the winter. Should drier conditions prevail this winter, you will want to get back to promptly watering your lawn come spring since snow melt will not be providing any moisture for free.

If you do have animal or human traffic on your lawn, it will miss the snow cover immensely. Packed snow protects the blades and roots of grass from wear patterns and it hides it from hungry wildlife. To protect your lawn in warm winter weather:

  • Post “Keep Off” and “No Pets” signs anywhere the public might take liberties with your dormant grass
  • If your grass is gaining the attention of hungry wildlife, make sure your fences are in good repair.
  • Vary where your dog does its business to limit patch damage from urine.

Winter Landscaping Care from Mirage of Calgary

If you need expert help as to whether to get in a last pruning, or whether to water your trees ahead of a “traditional” hard frost date, or with dealing with any climate related issues at all in your lawn or garden, contact us for a free quote.


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