Many people in winter bound parts of Canada envy Calgarians for the Chinooks that give them periodic, albeit temporary relief from cold winter weather. However, the sudden warming that occurs during a Chinook can be disastrous for many plants.
Is there anything you can do to protect your landscaping from the effects of a Chinook?
The sudden temperature changes that occur during a Chinook can trick plants into thinking it’s spring. Roots get active, sap starts to flow, and buds begin to plump up. When cold weather returns, as it always does, sap and buds freeze, and in severe cases, plants or trees can die.
First of all, choose your plants carefully. The effects of a Chinook are more dramatic in outlying areas and newly developed neighbourhoods which aren’t as well protected from the wind. To be safe, grow plants that are suited for Zone 4 or lower and can withstand wild fluctuations in temperature and moisture levels. Deep watering during the growing season encourages deep roots.
Plants such as cedars are very vulnerable to drying out. Try to position them and other sensitive plants on the east side of your house so they are protected from sun and winds blowing in from the west. Snow tends to drift in the most sheltered parts of your yard so those are good spots to place sensitive plants.
The best time to prepare your plants for Chinooks is during the growing season and fall. However, there are a few things that you can do during a Chinook to protect plants from damage.
While you’re out hanging Christmas lights, take a break and wrap or erect burlap screens around evergreens to protect them from the drying effects of sun and wind. When a Chinook hits, if temperatures reach 10 degrees Celsius or higher, you can deep water your evergreens and flower beds. You can also spray evergreens with products like Wilt Proof to prevent them from drying out. Make sure that root areas are protected by mulch. The sun and warmth that accompanies a Chinook can cause frost heaves and expose roots. Cover exposed roots with about 10 cm of mulch.
Chinooks are an amazing weather phenomenon and can provide a nice break from numbing winter cold, but they can be very hard on plants.
If you have winter gardening questions, contact 5 Star Landscaping.