Calgarians were treated to an unusually warm February, at least up until last week. We had so much warm weather that outdoor rinks melted, lawns became dry expanses of brown, and some even reported their tulips starting to peek through the ground. The extra early arrival of warmer weather is often referred to as a false spring, and it can be very confusing for your plants and garden … especially when followed by a bitterly cold snap like the one we just had. Take a look around your yard and perform a few tasks to prevent long-term damage.
What about our perennials?
Our mild February means our pretty perennials and flowering shrubs were not protected underneath a blanket of snow as usual, and some were so excited by the warm weather that they even started to grow. New leaves and buds are extremely sensitive to the cold, so they must be protected. The best thing to do is to cover the plants with a blanket or tarp to try to ward off the severe weather, but if you failed to do so, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Any exposed leaves and buds will definitely have been killed off by the cold weather, but it’s more than likely the plant itself will survive. It may take some extra time to appear once our actual spring arrives, and possibly be smaller and less healthy than normal, so be sure to offer it some extra TLC. Cultivate your beds thoroughly to get oxygen down into the soil and throw in some fertilizer for added nutrients.
If your perennials and flowering shrubs have suffered a lot of damage, you may want to consider mulch. Mulch provides a warm winter coat for your gardens and protects plants from overexposure. It stabilizes temperatures in the soil by becoming a direct layer of insulation for your plants. In the winter, mulch helps to protect roots from frost damage and heaving caused by the freeze/thaw cycles we routinely see in the region. Come early thaws or the fullness of spring, mulch will continue to stabilize the soil temperature when the days are warming and the nights are still chilly.
Mulch that is water absorbent will also keep meltwater from pooling near your plant and then freezing, which is a potentially deadly development.
Dry grass and snow mould
A cover of snow actually protects your lawn from harsh and drying winds. When grass is exposed, it is at risk of transpiration, which is when moisture is completely removed from the blades. Then when the weather gets cold again, the blades will freeze, break, and then die. Try to inform you family and friends to keep off the lawn when snow has melted but it is not yet spring.
An additional risk associated with a false spring and more traffic than usual in your yard is snow mould. Snow mould tends to happen when grass is densely packed down and heavily thatched, and it is harmful to both grass and health. Made up of several forms of fungus, snow mould can make spring allergies especially unbearable. The spores are not healthy to breathe in for anyone, but most especially for those already with breathing difficulties. It can also lead to dead patches reaching up to a couple feet in diameter. If your grass was trampled down during the warm days and now has a layer of snow on it, take the time to fluff it up with a good raking come spring to give snow mould less of a chance to form.
Mirage Landscaping: We work where we live
With over three generations of experience, we place the utmost importance on our customer relationships, providing courteous service, quality, and reliable prices that are more than fair. Among our many services, we provide affordable landscape maintenance and landscape construction packages. We work where we live, specializing in serving the southeast communities of: Auburn Bay, Chaparral, Chaparral Valley, Copperfield, Cranston, Douglasdale, Heritage Pointe, Lake Bonavista, Mahogany, McKenzie Lake, Mackenzie Towne, Maple Ridge, New Brighton, Odgen/Lynwood/Millican, Parkland, Riverbend, Sundance, Walden, and Willow Park.