In some years, France experiences repeated episodes of snowfall in winter, between November and March. Dreaded when it grips the road, snow is generally not harmful to plants. On the contrary, it forms an insulating coat which protects perennials in flower beds or in pots from frost. What are its benefits and harms in the garden?
Does snow harm plants?
Yes and no. Yes for conifers and for all evergreen shrubs. The appearance is indeed deceptive. The snow is not as light as you think. By accumulating on the foliage, this mass of water and air deforms the branches and eventually breaks them. The solution to preventing this damage is to shake the branches using a rake.
The bare antlers of deciduous trees don’t really fear snowfall. Be careful, however, of branches that are already horizontal on which the accumulation of snow can cause breakage.
Does snow damage the lawn?
Yes and no. It all really depends on the days before the snowfall. If the grass is frozen over by the time the snow falls, too much precipitation, or walking on the lawn, can break the blades. If snow also covers the lawn for too long, the lawn can turn yellow. Do not worry, however, the first spring shoot followed by the first mowing of the season will quickly make this damage disappear.
Is it useful to remove snow from flower beds, planters and balconies?
Clearly no. Snow crystals trap a large amount of air in their structure, which has excellent insulating qualities. Thus, the snow cover effectively protects the stumps of perennials, especially if the temperatures experienced drop sharply after snowfall. So leave the snow in place while waiting for the warmth. The above-ground parts of plants are at risk of suffocation. No worries here again, spring cleaning of the bed or the planters and the new growth will erase any damage.
Finally, snow brings more benefits than harm to the garden, which is perfectly summed up by the proverb: “February snow is worth manure juice”!