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How to Restore Plants Damaged by Snow

Feb 26, 2010 | Gardens, Services

The recent record setting snowfall in the DC and Montgomery County, Maryland area this year has done a number on many plants, shrubs, and trees.  Homeowners are wondering, “Will my plant survive?”  “What steps can I take to restore this shrub?” and “Is this tree beyond repair?”

Before throwing in the towel and removing and replacing all damaged plants, trees, and shrubs, there are some steps homeowners can take.  First, where possible, prune snapped branches.  With a pair of loppers, a hand saw, or pruners (or a chain saw in the case of large branches), make a clean cut below where the branch was initially broken.  It’s best to cut close to the base of the branch, and to cut at an angle.

woman near a tree

For large shrubs (5’ and above) that have “fallen over”, use wire and pieces of garden hose to stake the tree to the upright position.  Be sure to use galvanized wire and oak hardwood stakes.  You may need someone to assist you in pushing the shrub to the upright position while you pull the wire and hose into place.

After taking these initial steps, you may still be unsure about the overall health of your plants.  Before despairing about your shrub’s future prospects, wait until that time in the Spring when your particular variety “leaf’s out” or blooms.  You may be pleasantly surprised that your plant, though once down, may not be totally “out”.  In particular, mature plants and shrubs with established root systems have the best chance for overall survival.

Even still, there will be plants and trees that, despite our best efforts, will not survive the effects of snow damage.  In those cases, it’s best to remove and replace them.  Think of it as an opportunity for you to “upgrade” the curb appeal of your property, and to enhance your outdoor living experience.

In any case, if you still have doubts as to the health of your plant, it’s always best to get a professional assessment.  The landscape designers at Johnson’s Landscaping Service, Inc. (www.jlsinc.net) are prepared to assist you in this process.

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About the Author

Matt Johnson grew up in a family of landscapers and gardeners as the grandson of Raymond Johnson (Founder, 1933, Johnson's Florist and Garden Center) and son of James and Carol Johnson (Founders, 1960, Johnson's Landscaping Service, Inc.). Since 2007, he has led Johnson's Landscaping Service with his brother, Charlie.  Matt and his wife Jaime live in Petworth in Northwest DC with their 3 sons and 2 big dogs.

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