Plowed Snow Damages Plants

Winter is hard enough on plants with all the freezing and thawing, and subzero weather, but we also have to make sure, when we design a garden, that our plants will be out of the way of the snow plow. One of the first questions I ask a new client in this area is, where does the snow end up when the driveway or sidewalks are plowed? Generally speaking they are unable to answer me. Winter is the perfect time to go outside and photograph the piles of snow that are plowed along driveways and sidewalks. It’s easy to forget when the lushness of summer comes, exactly how large the snow piles can grow and where they end up. Having a good photographic record will help you figure out the areas to avoid planting. Late winter, after the snow has accumulated from the many storms, is the ideal time to take photographs so that you document the most extreme amounts. I have some banks of snow that are twelve to fifteen feet deep and 6’- 8’ feet high. It doesn’t mean you can’t have plants in those areas, but you do want to avoid planting trees and shrubs, because they are more likely to be damaged by the plow. Along my drive I have perennials borders that receive many feet of snow, but the perennial plants are cut back in the fall and the snow that ends up on these beds does not destroy the plants.
Last fall, I grabbed some Ilex winterberry in a fall sale and planted a few of them at the bottom of my drive quite a distance from the curve in the driveway. After the first big snowfall of 10 inches, I noticed that the plow had pushed the snow into one of the shrubs. The plant is still alive, but I will need to move it in the spring. I encourage you to keep good snow records because, if you’re like me, you won’t want to have any memory of winter, once it’s over!

Otto and Ruby waiting for plow truck

Otto and Ruby waiting for plow truck

Entry to drive

Entry to drive

plowed drive

plowed drive

Snow bank pushed into carpinus tree

Snow bank pushed into Carpinus tree

Snow banks along drive

Snow banks along drive

planting beds along drive-perennials cut back in autumn

planting beds along drive-perennials cut back in autumn

path to front door

path to front door

Plowed snow pile- King of the Hill

Plowed snow pile- King of the Hill

Gallery | This entry was posted in Design Ideas, Winter and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Plowed Snow Damages Plants

  1. Heleen Heyning says:

    So true!

  2. Keeping good photographic records is essential, whatever the season. You can see so much in a photo when it is taken as a reminder — of a problem or a success — rather than as a beauty shot. Captions help, too. Yours pin point the location and the issue. That will surely make them helpful, come next year.

    • Don Statham says:

      Hi Patterson- You and I are in the same boat with snow amounts. We average 66″ inches a year in my small town in upstate NY. Any idea how much you receive? At the moment we have 2′ feet on the ground with 4′ foot piles dotted about and looking at the future forecast there are no winter thaws being forecast, but instead continuous accumulation which alarms me because the drive becomes smaller and smaller. Best Don

      • I have no idea what our average snowfall is — a lot is how I’d describe it. We easily have 2 ft now and it continues to snow. I’m not moaning — tomorrow I head south for a month and I’m looking forward to seeing some southern gardens. I’ll be missing a month of winter for the first time in years and I hope I’ve made a good decision. We’ll see!

  3. Kackie says:

    You are amazing. I often think of you up there in that cold weather and wonder how you do it.
    Texas girls don’t have to think of such things. But your garden always amazes me. It recovers in leaps and bounds as if the cold weather was never there. What are you working on?
    I have been working on the renovation of the Forum Gardens. They are on the property where you gave your great lecture on Garden Rooms to our membership. My best to you-I now that you are scheming on some garden design ideas for the spring. Happy New year!

    • Don Statham says:

      Hi Kackie- so nice to hear from you. I often fantasize about having a Houston Garden. The use of the many tropical plants made such a profound impression on me. Green with Envy comes to mind! Winter is the time to dream and make plans. I have two projects for the spring creating a fern walk and finally making some tall 10′ foot willow tunnels connecting the lower and upper orchards. I do remember that charming garden where I spoke in Houston- that sounds like an exciting project and with your wonderful skill of combining plants I am sure it will be a great success! Best to you and your husband. Don

  4. Of Gardens says:

    yes, we do…sometimes, as happened in my front garden last year, all precautions taken by me were rendered useless when the plow went where it wanted to, taking a mature yew with it (several times) The end result is this year we brought a snow blower!

  5. mdestef says:

    What a good idea about the pictures for people who forget. As for me when the snow melted year after year and the same beds were ripped to shreds from the plow, I new what needed to be dont and where. Love the picure of the pooch on the top of snow pile. ( After diving a plow truck for years)The best advice I can give about snow piles is- if your not the one driving the plow than be specific as to where you want it plowed or piled up.

    • Don Statham says:

      These photos were taken mid winter and we have had much more snow then what you see here. I am always amazed at just how narrow the driveway becomes and how large the piles grow. I find most people don’t have a lot of places to put the snow and as someone who plows snows you know that the straight shots is where its going!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s