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Coping with snow and ice in your garden

"With a bit of care and attention during this inclement weather people can avoid having to replace valuable plants, trees and shrubs.”

– Knock off snow from evergreens and conifer branches as there is a danger bent branches won’t rebound

– If boughs split, prune off the affected area ensuring the cut is tidy and snag-free

– Tender evergreens such as Pittosporum tobira can be wrapped in horticultural fleece, although the damage may already be done. They should be moved to a sheltered position

– It’s too late to put bubble wrap around containers to help insulate plant roots, but you could move them next to a house wall or porch.

– It’s best to avoid watering or feeding plants in pots and containers, even if it’s windy, until the weather thaws.

– Acclimatise container-grown Christmas trees to outdoor conditions gradually

– Research suggests it is no longer necessary to break the ice on many ponds. However, ponds in which fish are kept or that have a large build-up of sediment or leaves do need oxygen. For these, continue to run water features to keep a section ice free and the water circulating

– To avoid bird baths freezing, insulate the bottom with bubblewrap or similar and replace water regularly.

– Defer pruning grasses until warmer weather. Not only do they give structure to the winter garden, they also provide protection for beneficial insects

– Many tender plants such as Mimosa and Phormium were badly affected by last winter’s snow. Wait until spring to prune out damage

– Unpruned foliage on shrubs such as Hydrangea protects lowers shoots and buds

– Fruit trees and other woody plants can be pruned in weather down to -5°C

– Avoid walking on snowy or frosty grass

– Mulching wet or frozen soil is best avoided

– Where fruit cage netting was left on, tap the snow off from beneath to reduce damage to the fruit cage. Repair cages that have already collapsed. Also remove snow from other structures including cloches and cold frames

– Check the temperature in your greenhouse to maintain frost-free conditions for plants such as citrus

– For indoor plants avoid overwatering and sudden drops in temperature

– Winter vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and parsnips should be fine but beware – some might rot after prolonged freezes

– Take care that stored produce, including fruit, doesn’t freeze

– Beware as voles, mice and rabbits can become very hungry and use snow to scale fences and reach higher up stems to do damage

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