Preparing for Winter Weather

by Ann Barnes

Once again, forecasts of ice and snow have Triangle residents nervous. Once we’ve purchased all the bread and milk in our stores, perhaps we should take a few minutes to prepare our homes and landscapes for the weather.

First, make sure you are prepared for a weather-related emergency. Fill containers or purchase bottled water and make sure you have plenty of non-perishable food that can be eaten without requiring cooking. Locate a manual can opener and flashlights in case the power goes out. Once severe weather arrives, stay off the roads if conditions aren’t favorable for driving.

For more Winter Weather Preparedness tips, follow this link.

Once you are prepared for a few days indoors, you may want to take a look at your landscape. Some plants are more susceptible to breakage when weighted down by ice or snow than others, but a little preparation can help to protect them.

Tall, narrow trees, such as sky pencil holly, arborvitae, and Leyland cypress are prone to damage by winter precipitation. Branches may break or become permanently bent over during a storm. If your narrow conifers aren’t too tall to reach, you can wrap your trees with rope or strips of cloth (even those old pantyhose would work). Smaller trees can be wrapped together (see the first tree below), while tying branches of trees together 2/3 of the way up will help to protect your larger trees (second tree, below). Remember to remove the ties once ice and snow melt.

Two ways to protect trees from winter precipitation damage. Image:

Trees with dead or damaged branches or those with narrow branch angles (such as Bradford pears) are also more likely to suffer damage when weighted down with ice and snow. Unless you have an arborist on speed dial, there is probably little that can be done to prepare these trees for tomorrow’s storm, but future pruning may be beneficial.

More preparation and pruning tips are covered here and here.

Stay warm! I’m off to wrap my beloved sky pencil holly.