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Can You Garden In The Snow? Preparing For A Cold Snap

Can You Garden In The Snow? Preparing For A Cold Snap

10 minute read

Can you garden in the snow? We are often asked this question as gardeners are always keen to be outdoors, no matter the time of year, and are willing to battle the Great British Weather to ensure their gardens remain in tip top condition.

Here we will not only answer the question of gardening in the snow, we will also suggest ways to prepare your garden and plants for cold snaps and snowy weather. As to preventing snow damage, it's all about being prepared! 

"To be prepared is half the victory"

Can You Garden In The Snow? What You Can Do If A Cold Snap Has Been Predicted
If a cold snap has been forecast or you wake up to a covering of snow over your garden, there are lots of jobs you can carry out to help your plants – just remember to make sure you wear some thermal gloves and a good pair of boots to keep you upright in what could be slippery conditions.   

Cover Garden Furniture

Although you may get a lot of use out of your garden furniture during the summer months, when temperatures fall and there is rain, ice and snow then it’s unlikely that you will be sitting out in your garden.

To prevent your furniture from being damaged by the wet weather, as you don’t want rust or mould forming on your seats or tables, then it’s best to store your furniture away in a shed or garage.

Deep Root Success Kit

If this isn’t possible then your next best option is to cover the furniture with a waterproof covering, tied securely in place, removing any detachable cushions and storing these indoors. 

tidy away gardening equipment

Tidy Away Gardening Equipment 

Although in a perfect gardening world we would always store equipment away after use, so it’s safe from weather damage, in reality this often doesn’t happen!

During the summer months when we might be watering our garden every day, hose pipes are often left outdoors. 

But once the colder months have arrived you should always tidy tools away – this is especially true of watering equipment which can be damaged by frost if left out. 

So, a little time spent putting things away in the Autumn will save the cost of replacing damaged items in the spring. 

Can You Garden In The Snow? Protecting Individual Plants
When it comes to individual plants, shrubs and container plants, you have a few options available to you to help them survive a cold snap and potential snow. So, if you see frost or snow predicted on the weather forecast, it’s time to take action.

Easy Fleece Jackets 

These specially designed plant ‘jackets’ are the quick and easy way to provide effective protection to individual plants in garden borders, or containers of plants or even hanging baskets. 

Made from high grade, extra thick fleece, these ‘jackets’ are like a bag with a drawstring around the base. The drawstring lets you ensure all your plant is covered and the jacket ‘drawn’ shut to keep it protected from the cold. 

Click here for purchasing details.

Protect Plants With Garden Fleece

Another option for protecting individual plants or parts of your garden is to use horticultural fleece which you can purchase per metre, such as our cosygrow fleece. This can be wrapped around plants and secured with string or wire, can be placed over sections of the garden if it’s been newly planted, secured in place with pegs.

Top Tip
If you haven’t got any garden fleece to hand when you need to protect your plants you could temporarily use a black bin liner to cover your plants until you can purchase some fleece. But you should not use a bin liner in this way for more than 7 days as it will be blocking everything from your plant – light and water. Whereas garden fleece is a permeable material so lets rainwater through. 

Can You Garden In The Snow? Protecting Potted Plants
Fleece can also be used to protect plants growing in pots and containers, wrapping the fleece around the pots as well as the plants. Or, if you have any horticultural bubble wrap / greenhouse insulation such as our heatsheets, these too can be wrapped around planters to protect them from drops in temperature. 

pansies in the snow                  potted plants in the snow  

If you have a number of planters / containers in your garden it’s best to move them all together in a ‘huddle’, moving them to somewhere in the garden which will be more protected / sheltered – such as nearer to the back wall of your house.

Can You Garden In The Snow? You Can Remove The Snow
When it has snowed you should gently knock any snow off plants as much as possible. 

knocking snow off evergreens

Snow can be very heavy, and when it starts to thaw it gets even heavier – so evergreens and conifers with their branches weighted down with snow can often be damaged, with branches breaking off or their shape being distorted.

So, no matter how picturesque, when you are out in your garden take every opportunity to remove the snow to prevent this from happening.

If there has been a heavy snow fall, then ideally you should try to clear the settled layer of snow from cold frames and your greenhouse roof. You should do this for two main reasons – snow will block light getting into these structures – so for maximum light to reach your plants brush the snow away. The other reason is the weight of the snow – you don’t want these structures to be damaged by the extra weight – especially older greenhouses which might not be as sturdy as newer models.

Other structures in your garden which could be damaged by heavy snow fall are fruit cages. No matter how strong the frame of the cage is, the snow will still be very heavy when it accumulates on the net and this weight could bend the frame.

This is why it is always advisable to remove the net from fruit cages in late autumn. Then store it away until it’s needed again the following year.

netting covered in snow

Can You Garden In The Snow? You Can Take Care Of The Wildlife Visiting Your Garden
If you are a gardener which encourages wildlife into your garden – so beneficial insects or mammals – or like to feed the birds in your garden, then it’s important that you take care of them throughout the winter months and the poor weather conditions.

feed garden birds  feed the wild birds on a bird table  feed wild birds suet balls

Although a lot of the wild birds which would visit our gardens migrate, about half of those which we would usually see will stay in the uk, including blue tits, chaffinches, goldfinches etc.

With reduced daylight hours, colder temperatures and worse weather, if you want to help birds survive the winter it’s about providing good quality, natural bird food which is easy for them to find and access. Peanut granules and sunflower hearts are packed full of nutrition and the birds don’t have to waste energy removing seed husks to get at their food. Whilst fat balls and suet pellets will be especially appreciated by garden birds as they are packed full of energy.

During the winter months you should be regularly filling bird feeders and bird tables – in severe weather you might even find that the birds visiting your garden are eating so much that you need to top up twice a day! But also bear in mind that you shouldn’t let uneaten food build up – it can congeal, become dirty, become full of bacteria which could spread disease amongst birds.

Can You Garden In The Snow? How Bulbs Are Affected By A Covering Of Snow
Spring bulbs are incredibly tough, and are adapted to survive in even cold, unpredictable weather conditions, with snowdrops, hyacinths, muscari and some daffodils being particularly resistant to the cold. Whilst tulips and lilies are more prone to be damaged if buds or blooms have formed.

If you plant your bulbs deep enough in the soil then even if the surface of the soil is frozen or covered in snow, the bulbs themselves will be insulated and protected by the soil. You can increase frost protection for bulbs by covering the surface of the soil with a layer of mulch, two to four inches thick (research has shown that using more than four inches of mulch does not increase protection so you don’t need a thicker layer).

So the bulbs are well protected when they are in the soil, when foliage, buds and blooms start to appear then the potential for damage is higher, where there could be wilting and browning of foliage.

If you are concerned that this could happen then you could apply some instant protection as soon as bad weather has been predicted – this could be in the form of fleece or a cloche.

bulbs surviving snow

However, it is very unlikely that there would be extensive damage and usually after the snow has melted the bulbs will right themselves and quickly recover.

Can You Garden In The Snow? Can The Snow Provide Protection To Plants
Most garden plants will not be damaged by snow and it actually provides a form of ‘insulation’, protecting new growth from extreme temperatures and icy wind, whilst keeping plants moist. In fact, you will sometimes hear about snow being referred to as the ‘poor man’s fertiliser’. This is not just an old wives tale, it is actually based on fact – snow contains the nutrient nitrogen – which is slowly released into the soil as the snow blankets the ground.  

Snow Protects Some Plants

You will find that hardy plants can withstand cold snaps, even if temperatures drop as low as -15 degrees Celsius and include plants such as cyclamen, acanthus, anemones, hellebores etc.

Whilst frost hardy plants such a winter pansies, can survive in temperatures of -5 degrees Celsius and will be happy to poke their blooms through a layer of snow.  

Can You Garden In The Snow? What You Can't Do If There Is Snow On The Ground
One of the most important things to avoid doing in your garden when it has snowed is walking on the grass! Yes, we know you might be tempted to build a snowman but we would recommend not doing this on your lawn.

Walking on snow covered grass will damage the turf below as it causes compaction. Compaction basically means that the soil particles get pressed closer together, reducing the air pockets and resulting in reduced infiltration by water and reduced drainage. Both of which will affect healthy growth. 

    Our 'Can You Garden In The Snow?' blog post has been created from our personal knowledge, information gathered by speaking to other gardeners or manufacturers in the gardening industry, by reading gardening magazines and devouring information from books and the internet. We aim to be as accurate as we can, so if you find a mistake, please remember, we’re only human. if you have any queries you can contact us today!

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