In an earlier Blog, we discussed the weather extremes here in the Kansas City area. Well, Mother Nature decided to put in her two cents worth and reaffirm just what we said: we live in an area of wide environmental swings! From extremely dry conditions in November and December to near record moisture (in the form of snow) in January and February, Kansas City’s weather is interesting if nothing else. Virtually everybody in the area is looking out at a landscape that is snowy white, and probably muttering something about having to clear the driveways and sidewalks again and again. From a gardener’s point of view, though, the heavy snow is not only beautiful, but may be very beneficial too. The “blanket of white” outside is indeed just that—a blanket; the heavy layer of snow acts as a tremendous insulator for all sorts of plants as well as the soil itself. That insulating layer is especially important because when we experienced the recent below zero temperatures, much protection was offered those tender plants residing in our gardens. The snow layer, too, buffers ground temperatures and helps minimize the effects of the freeze-thaw cycle which can be damaging to shallow perennials and bulbs. Additionally, when the snow eventually melts, it will slowly add beneficial moisture to the once dry ground, which recent experience has shown pays great dividends in spring growth for groundcovers, perennials, and flowering trees.
The one possible downside to gardeners from the recent heavy snows is possible damage to less than sturdy evergreen branches. Certain evergreen varieties with fan-like foliage, such as arborvitae and chaemacyparis, may benefit from carefully brushing heavy snow off of laboring branches. Additionally, if too much snow is piled onto plants near sidewalks or drives, it is probably a good idea to remove excess snow layers before plants are damaged by a lack of oxygen and sunlight.
All in all, Kansas City gardeners can sit by the fire and enjoy this latest round of snowfall. Though we received a foot or so of snow, it was lightweight enough to not be a problem, and the insulating and moisture adding benefits it provides will help gardens as we move into spring. Happy gardening (and snow shoveling)!
P.S. The Greenleaf guys love the snow, so if your back simply can’t take any more shoveling, give us a call and we can help you dig out (cars, plants, or people)!