Jacobson: How extreme weather conditions affect our landscapes – North Platte Telegraph


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Jacobson: How extreme weather conditions affect our landscapes

Laying a walkway through your garden, or your lawn, can help the surrounding grass and plants avoid damage during winter months when the plants are vulnerable.

Photo courtesy of Julie Jacobson

By Julie Jacobson
Master Gardener
Predictions of climate change suggest major changes in temperature and rainfall, as well as in frequency and timing of extreme weather, all in varying degrees and patterns. Although the details of these pattern changes are still uncertain, we can be sure of profound effects on ecological processes in and functioning of landscapes.In Nebraska, we have unusual weather that leaves an impact on our landscape, especially reflecting back to the floods of 2019. Any type of weather event from snowstorms, hail, rain or even droughts can dramatically impact the greenery in your yard. Keep reading to learn how your landscape could be affected by one of these events. Winter can be a brutal season for landscapes with snow and ice, but spring can be just as damaging with rainstorms and flooding. It’s always good to be prepared and know ahead of time how different weather events an affect your property, from droughts, flooding and erosion, to tree and lawn damage.Droughts and floodingGetting too much rain at once can be just as damaging as having a drought. When plants lack water, it limits the growth of the plants and makes them more susceptible to diseases. Trees and shrubs suffer from scorching and defoliation when they receive no rain for a long period of time, however corrective measures of applying mulch moderate temperature and moisture needs for plants. When there is an abundant amount of rain at once, most trees and plants can’t survive under all of that water for much longer than a week. It causes their oxygen supply to be cut off, which makes it difficult for the trees and plants to get the energy that they need. Encourage rainwater to soak in rather than run-off with good soil management by increasing organic matter content of soils and reducing soil compaction, such as core aeration or tillage where feasible.Soil erosionErosion is the process of the land wearing down. It can be caused by all different types of storms. Rain can cause damage to the soil in your yard and start the process of erosion. Damaged soil will eventually affect the plants and trees that are planted around the soil. Erosion is a rippling effect that could truly destroy the overall appearance of your landscape.Tree and lawn damageA heavy amount of snow can weigh on trees causing deformation. This will affect the appearance of your trees and your lawn. Snow not only affects the trees, but it has an impact on the lawn as well.Have you ever noticed pink or grey patches in your lawn after the snow melts? Snow mold is caused by the moisture left behind from melted snow. This is a fungal disease that fosters underneath the snow and causes the grass to die.Cold, dry, windy winter conditions with little snow cover and extreme winter temperature fluctuations increase winter desiccation injury on evergreens, especially arborvitae and boxwood, but also pine, spruce, fir, juniper and yew, because evergreens lose more moisture from green foliage during winter than deciduous plants with no foliage.Our recent snow storms have been a blanket of protection for our yards during our large blast of winter cold temperatures. Damage will occur when the amount of moisture lost is greater than what can be replaced by roots, often due to frozen or dry soil. In the spring, when you are doing inventory of your plants, pay particular attention to browning of foliage on the south or east side of evergreens.Possible solutions for inclement weatherYou may want to think about applying some of the solutions below to help reduce the amount of damage that occurs from these storms.» Lawn grading: Grade your lawn, so it has a downward slope to ensure that water doesn’t damage your home or yard.» Overseeding: Overseed or dormant seed your lawn to help create stronger, healthier grass to withstand the winter months.» Retaining walls: Build a retaining wall to help drain water to avoid soil erosion.» Walkways: Add a walkway to your landscape to avoid damage during snowstorms and allow for easier path clearing.» Tree pruning: Prune trees before storms to make them more resistant to storm damage.» Right plant, right location: The best solution is a good beginning. Placing the right plant in the right location, beginning with healthy, native plant stock and careful maintenance during the growth of that plant, considering water, light and nutrients is important. A healthy plant is more resistant to any surprises in the forecast.For additional information on gardening or to get personally answered landscape questions, contact a master gardener resource through Nebraska Extension, West Central Research, Education and Extension Center at 308-532-2683. Master Gardener training continues for 2021 and is virtual via zoom on Tuesdays. Contact the office to sign up for classes. There are endless educational opportunities to study horticulture and get your green thumbs working. Keep gardening and learning.

Laying a walkway through your garden, or your lawn, can help the surrounding grass and plants avoid damage during winter months when the plants are vulnerable.

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