Clintar Blog

Protecting Your Commercial Property’s Plants This Winter

Clintar | September 21, 2023 | Winter Maintenance

Winter plant protection is a vital part of maintaining the vibrant greenery in commercial spaces. Harsh, chilly weather can seriously damage plants, affecting not just their appearance, but their overall wellbeing and lifespan. Navigating the challenges of winter plant protection may seem daunting, but they are entirely manageable with the right knowledge and tools.

Understanding Your Plant’s Hardiness Zone

The hardiness zone of your plants plays a central role in their health and survival, particularly during the cold weather and freezing temperatures that winter brings. Recognizing these zones can help inform your decisions when selecting plants for your commercial property.

Hardiness zones, established by organizations such as the Royal Horticultural Society, provide guidance on which plants are likely to thrive in specific geographical areas. This knowledge helps prevent common winter problems like sunscald or freeze-thaw cycles that can damage or uproot shallow-rooted plants.

Strategic Plant Selection Based on Hardiness Zones

Integrating knowledge of hardiness zones into your landscape management strategy enables you to choose vegetation that can survive and thrive within their respective zones, even during harsh winters. This approach not only protects them from unexpected cold snaps but also reduces maintenance efforts involved in replacing frost-damaged plants.

Mitigating Winter Damage Through Effective Plant Selection

Avoiding potential damage caused by severe weather conditions begins at the plant selection stage. It’s not merely about picking any evergreen plants, but focusing on those with roots that can withstand sudden temperature fluctuations. Some examples of plants with a hearty root system are spruce, fir, juniper, and pine however, there are many more. Making suitable planting choices, considering factors like soil moisture retention capacity, can help maintain moist soils around root systems, reducing risks associated with freeze-thaw cycles. 

Pruning Trees for Winter Survival

Winter can be challenging for trees due to harsh cold weather and freezing temperatures. Pruning is one crucial strategy for protecting plants during this season.

Conducting proper pruning before unexpected cold snaps or heavy snowfall reduces the risk of branches breaking and maintains the overall health of trees by eliminating dead or diseased wood. This proactive approach fosters healthy growth while reducing the risk of disease.

A Guide to Effective Tree Pruning Techniques

Different tree types require distinct pruning approaches. Deciduous varieties should ideally be pruned late in winter during dormancy, whereas evergreen plants require minimal trimming, preferably outside of late autumn. The Royal Horticultural Society provides more detailed information on this.

To begin efficient pruning, start by identifying and removing any dead or damaged branches that could be dangerous under severe weather conditions such as hard freeze. Then, thin out areas where there’s overcrowding to allow better air circulation and light penetration, which are crucial for plant protection throughout the long winter months.

Avoid over-pruning; excessive removal may stress the tree and essentially push shallow-rooted plants into distress mode. The International Society of Arboriculture recommends not exceeding a 25% reduction in the crown of any tree at one time for optimal growth and to minimize risks associated with improper maintenance.

The Protective Power of Mulch

In terms of plant protection during freezing winter temperatures, mulching is a tried-and-tested method. It serves as an insulator for plants’ roots against frost. Organic options such as chopped leaves or composted bark chips not only cover plants but also enrich soil moisture over time due to their decomposing nature.

Selecting and Applying Mulch Effectively

Choosing the right mulch depends on various factors, including your region’s weather, the type of garden you have, and the particular requirements of your plants. For instance, pine straw works well with acid-loving trees because of its acidic properties.

When applying mulch correctly around shrubs without causing potential damage, avoid piling it up against these areas. This technique, often referred to as ‘volcano-mulching’, can lead to decay by creating environments that are conducive to pests and diseases.

Protecting Plants from Road Salt

Road salt, commonly known as sodium chloride, plays a crucial role in ensuring safe driving conditions during winter. However, its use can harm your property’s vegetation. Its application can result in dehydration and disrupt nutrient absorption within plants’ roots, making it essential to strategize its use to protect plants effectively.

An accumulation of salt increases soil salinity, impeding water uptake by plant roots, leading to physiological drought – a state that severely affects plant health. High levels of sodium can block essential nutrients like potassium and calcium, necessary for healthy growth, thus further compromising plant health.

Balancing Safety & Sustainability

To minimize harm caused by common winter problems such as ice formation without damaging your green assets, consider creating physical barriers between areas where you apply these materials and nearby vegetation using burlap screens or snow fences. Avoid piling up snow mixed with deicing agents near trees or shrubs. If possible, avoid watering plants immediately before expected freeze-thaw cycles.

Final Thoughts: Preparing Your Green Spaces for the Winter Chill

Taking the necessary steps to protect your commercial property’s plants during the winter months is crucial for maintaining the beauty and value of your landscape.

If you’re managing commercial spaces and want to ensure the best possible care for your greenery this winter, consider the expert services of Clintar. Our team has 50 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies, property management firms, facility management companies, and government bodies across Canada – we know how to protect plants in any weather condition. Learn more about our services here.

By following these tips and seeking professional advice, you can keep your commercial property’s plants healthy and vibrant, even through the toughest winters.