If you ask an old-time Native Minnesotan they would say back in the day there was lots of snow and it was brutally cold year after year. Today, the variances in temperature and snow amounts are perplexing and I’m sure the old folk that are still around would agree that things are a bit on the unpredictable side. With this unpredictability comes stress on all of our plants. I have put together a list of reasons why you should take an extra step to ensure that certain situations do not happen in your landscape.

Rabbits – They are everywhere in the Twin Cities metro (especially Minneapolis and Edina where they are feed by some homeowners as well as have fewer predators). In the winter they get really hungry once the snow-pack gets high enough to cover all their food sources. If the levels of snow go over 2′ one really needs to make sure the snow isn’t creating a ladder to the lower branches of your favorite plant or tree. I have known many Japanese Maples to just get plain torn apart in one night after the snow ladder (and a good set of hind legs) allowed one or many to rear up and dine. My advice is to wrap the bottom of the tree with burlap in the fall. I would also push the snow down around the base of the tree from time to time.

Voles – Last year was a disaster when herds of Voles came out in massive numbers and tore apart entire yards. Now this is not a total loss as the grass usually will recuperate with the help of a lawn maintenance company. Mowing low on the last run around the yard in the fall will help deter the voles from going nuts too as it eliminates some of their fodder. An item of more importance would be when they get to the soft bark of trees and shrubs. I have seen them devastate Burning Bush, Serviceberry, Yew and other precious plants. In this case you can either wrap the plants like for what you would do with the rabbits above. That can be expensive (burlap is not cheap) and time consuming. You could also put down some MoleMax around your plants and lawn before the snow. There are some poisons you could use if you decided to go that route. In the winter after a soft fluffy snow or warm day you should be able to see their tiny trails. Follow the trail to where is enters into the snow (typically around a plant or landscape boulder) and put a bit down there.

Winterburn – happens when conifers dry out due to the stronger sun angle in late winter. This combined with a drying wind can cause many of our prized evergreens to dry out. There are several things one can do to ensure that your Hemlocks and Yews are not crispy come spring. Wiltpruf is the #1 thing that I recommend. It is naturally derived from pine trees and inhibits evergreen plants from allowing water to move in or out thus stopping the drying. Burlap is good for new and smaller plants, but can be expensive and time consuming as mentioned above. Snow is good and it really helps shed some sun and keeps the wind away. If there is no snow please remember that it never hurts to empty a couple pails of warm water at the base of the plant during a winter thaw so the evergreens, who breath and drink all winter, can make it to spring looking their best.

We can fight winter by going on vacation, but some things in our yards are just unavoidable. To protect your landscape investments the three above options can really help.