A White Christmas? Preparing Your Garden For Snow

Looking out over the polytunnel – extreme snow in 2018 ‘Beast from the East’

White Christmases are sadly pretty rare where I live. Though snow in winter is not hugely uncommon, we tend to get it in January or February if it comes at all, and it rarely lasts long. We do occasionally have much more of it, however, and when the forecast suggests that we might have a lot, then that is when we have to prepare for it in the garden.

Some gardeners are used to snow lying for long periods over the winter. But for others, snow can be more of a challenge in the garden because it is not something that they regularly have to deal with.

If snow is forecast, it can be a good idea to do a few things around the garden to protect your plants, or make things a bit easier come the thaw. (The thaw can often be more of a problematic time for the garden than the snow itself.)

Here then, are a few tips if snow is coming:

  • Make sure any greenhouses/ polytunnels etc are in good repair, and that they are strong enough to support the weight of the snow.
  • Bring delicate/tender plants indoors or under cover to protect them (not just from the temperatures but also from the weight of the snow falling and settling on them).
  • Use cloches or other covers to protect brassicas and other winter vegetables growing outdoors.
  • Think about placing stakes or other markers so you know where paths are under the snow and do not inadvertently step on and compact plants/ growing areas.
  • Make sure any drainage ditches or gutters are free and clear, so excess water from snow melt can drain effectively. (Remember – it is a good idea to direct that water wisely, so it can be stored and used in your garden. Snow melt might be directed to a pond or rain garden, for example.)

Prepare for winter extremes as best you can. There will likely still be some surprises, but keeping an eye on the forecast and doing some upkeep jobs can make it less likely that you will experience a garden disaster.

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