Winter Damages Have You Down?

winter damage snowTrees and Shrubs can recover many ways from the harsh winter elements.  By repairing them you help prevent the stress from leading to much bigger problems or even new problems.  These harsh winters can be completely devastating to your gardens.  These damages vary from climate to climate across the United States.  This article will list some more specific things to look for and treat related to the Roanoke, Virginia area.

Inspection is the first on the list of things to do. All of your plants should be looked over when early spring hits to check for symptoms of or winter injuries themselves. Trees, especially large ones, should be inspected for frost cracks in the stem or trunk of the tree, broken and/or cracked branches, and varied other damaged or hazardous conditions that may exist.

frost crack

You must also check for signs of insects and disease in your garden.  Plants that have been stressed by the harshness of winter tend to be more susceptible to disease or insects.  You need to monitor your plants throughout the spring and summer in order to spot the problems and treat them accordingly.


Trees, shrubs, and plants need more than just water to thrive.  They require nutrients.  Having your soil tested will give you the knowledge that you will need to grow happy healthy plants.  This information will also be able to guide you toward a proper fertilizer that will enable you to replace the nutrients your soil may be lacking.  In places, like Virginia, where we have a lot of snow where we use deicing treatments it is especially important to know the salt content of your soil.  The deicing solutions contain a lot of salt that gets into the soil. Fertilization, irrigation, and mulching help to promote new growth on those plants and trees damaged by winter.

Pruning too early can cause more damage than the winter injury has caused. Many plants will push-out new limbs and buds from injured areas of the plants and trees.  You should wait until the plant has resumed its growth in the spring to prune out the old dead branches.

trunk crack

If you have a tree or shrub with a frost crack, which are cracks in the stems and/or branches, you should watch them closely.  However, do not intervene in anyway. Monitor the cracks to see if they are starting to close on their own. The foliage should also be closely monitored. Some pests can cause leaf injuries which in turn reduces the energy of the plants and stresses them further.

The extreme weather during the winter seasons such as snow, ice, hail, and even wind can cause branches to break.  These alter the plants appearance and can cause a pattern change in productivity of the plant. Again, pruning in the spring time is the biggest help. This can allow for better or restored plant productivity and also reshape the appearance of the plant.  Some damage is usually inevitable but if you remove parts of the plants or trees that may be susceptible to breakage or damage before the long harsh winter sets in will greatly help and can reduce injury to the plants.


Careful inspections throughout the year with proper fertilization and mulching will help prevent or lessen winter damage. Get to know your plants that way when they are not thriving you will have a better idea of what may be wrong with them. As my mother-in-law, whom is Italian, says, “Parlare alle piante aiuta a farle crescere meglio!”  Which means, “Talking to the plants helps them grow better!” She talks to them well wouldn’t you say? Part of her garden featured below.

ida1 ida2


Pictures courtesy of Ida Patatu.

Chiaramonti, Sardinia, Italy.


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