Benefits of Snow


Relentless-Winter-by-Midwest Gardening.jpg

The winters of 2013/2014 and 2017/2018 were a good opportunity for the entire country to remind themselves of the benefits of snow.  And looking out my front door on March 1 at the scene above, I certainly need to remind myself of all the good that comes of all that snow.  Actually, come spring the snow itself will remind us.  Without getting into any scientific data, here is a long list of why we love snow:

  • Snow is an insulating blanket for our plants, protecting roots. It also traps warmth emanating from the core of the earth. Of course this year we also had several frigid bouts of the Polar Vortex, so the question is, did we get enough snow early enough to protect our plants?

  • Deep snow helps the soil retain moisture over winter.

  • Deep snow around evergreens susceptible to winter injury will “hold” cold air around the plant well. Unless the sun is very warm consistently, the evergreen is less likely to want water, which it can’t get right now.

  • Those thirsty evergreens, as well as all our trees, shrubs and perennials, are going to get a long, deep, nourishing drink this spring.

  • Snow, like rain, is full of nitrogen. All vegetation will love this when spring finally comes.

  • Snow insulating the soil will prevent the cycle of freeze and thaw in early winter and early spring. These cycles can cause heaving which can break and damage plant roots.

  • Winter ornamental plants look absolutely glorious!

  • Hibernating animals are more secure with deep snow around them. Their dens stay warmer, requiring less fuel burning to stay warm.

  • Deep snow muffles sound, creating a quiet wonderland even in the city.

  • Lake levels and water supplies will be generously replenished this spring.

I do love being out on a quiet winter night with big fat snowflakes falling.  So it is a shame it has been too cold to be out enjoying it much this winter.  But I will console myself looking out the window with thoughts of the spring to come, the earth replenished by melting snow and bright sunshine.

We just wont think about the damage of heavy snow to shrubs and tree limbs.

And the deep hiding places from predators for mice, voles, and other damaging little critters to safely multiply.  And chew at shrub and plant trunks.

And our record breaking temperatures may be too much even for the deep snow we have accumulated.  There will likely be some plant loss, but the good news about the relentless Polar Vortex is many insects that are usually protected by snow, may not be deep enough in the soil to survive!  The Emerald Ash Borer is expected to have a low survival rate, and I am hoping the same happens to our friend the rose beetle.

April showers, and snow melt, brings May Flowers!  If we can only make it til May!

Sharon Dwyer