The South West London Gardener

How to Deal with Snow in a London Garden

snow on tree

Snowfall can be both enchanting and challenging for London gardeners.

While it blankets the city in a picturesque white coat, it also presents a unique set of challenges for those who tend to their green outside space.

Here at The Southwest London Gardener, we have written many blogs about how the weather affects a garden.

From dealing with excessive heat to an abundance of rain, knowing how to act to best protect your plants and more is key.

As we head through winter, the prospect of snow grows, with some areas of London already seeing some this season.

So, how can you best prepare for a heavy snowfall, and is it possible to keep your garden fully protected?

In this guide, we will answer these questions and provide some hints and tips to help you (and your garden) get through a heavy snow shower.

Let’s take a look.

Preparing Your Garden for Winter

Let’s start with jobs to do to prepare for the winter, regardless of the snow.

As this season approaches, we know it’s time to put away the shorts and flip-flops and get out the hats and gloves.

There are some key things to do when you know this change is coming.

Firstly, take the time to prune your trees and shrubs. Before the snow arrives, if you can remove dead or weak branches, this will stop them from breaking under heavy snowfall and causing a mess later on when there may be more to clear up.

A tidy garden is a happy garden, so try to keep fallen leaves and other debris to a minimum.

It can also be a good idea to apply a layer of mulch around your plants to help keep the soil underneath as warm as possible. Using organic mulch is not only a sustainable choice but also will help to provide long-lasting nutrients throughout winter and beyond.

And finally, if you do have delicate plants, try and protect them the best you can. If you can bring them inside, this is a good choice. If not, think about adding a cover for a bit of extra protection.

And remember, a garden can be enjoyed all year round, so don’t be afraid to stay outside and embrace the winter season in your outside space.

snow on tree

Protecting Plants During Snowfall

So, back to the snow, and now you’re all prepared, keeping everything protected and healthy should be simple.

When the snow begins to fall, your plants may need some extra care to weather the storm though.

Gentle Snow Removal

Here’s how to protect them:

Light, fluffy snow can accumulate quickly on plant branches, leading to breakage.

Use a gentle touch to shake off excess snow from your shrubs and trees, preventing them from being weighed down.

Remember, a soft touch is all that is required to ensure no further damage is being done.

Plant Covers

As mentioned above, for larger plants and shrubs, consider using specially designed plant covers or burlap wraps.

These protective layers act as shields against snow and cold winds, maintaining a more stable microclimate around your plants.

Remember to add a bit of a slope so the snow doesn’t accumulate and get heavy. The last thing you want is a breakage and a large amount to hit your plants at once.

Clear Snow from Branches

In the event of heavy snowfall, take the time to gently clear snow from your plant branches using a soft broom or your hands.

This prevents branches from bending or breaking under the snow’s weight.

These are a bit sturdier than your plants, so you don’t need to take as much care as you do with them.

Clear Walkways

Clearing snow from your garden’s paths and walkways is essential for safety and accessibility.

If you can, keep them clear of snow and ice. Use a snow shovel if you have one or apply salt and sand to prevent slippery ice from forming. One thing to remember here is that salt can be harmful to plants and the surrounding garden, so try and find eco-friendly and natural solutions, such as calcium magnesium acetate or potassium chloride which are known to be more friendly to plants and wildlife.

Always be careful of the plants around your walkways when removing snow, as it can be thrown off at quite some speed.

Snow shovels with plastic blades are more garden-friendly than metal ones, but as long as you show some care when clearing things, you should be okay.

If you and guests are going to use your garden, do a quick check for icy patches beforehand just to make sure everything is safe.

Monitor Snow Accumulation

During periods of heavy snowfall, it’s crucial to monitor snow accumulation in your garden.

Keeping an eye on the build-up is vital to ensuring you don’t let things build up too much and begin to cause damage.

Excessive snow accumulation on branches, especially in compacted layers, can lead to structural damage. Keep an eye on your plants and take action if necessary, even if is it still heavily snowing.

Always be careful when doing this, ensuring you wrap up warm and wear suitable footwear to avoid slipping.

snow on plant

Snow and Wildlife

Snow can impact the wildlife in your garden.

If you love nothing more than spotting a red-breasted robin or a spiky hedgehog in the winter months, then here’s how you can make sure your garden is still a safe and welcoming place for them to visit:

  • Clear Pathways for Wildlife: Create clear pathways in the snow for birds, squirrels, and other creatures to access food and water sources. You can scatter birdseed or provide fresh water to support local wildlife and show them the ways to go to get it.
  • Add Winter Bird Feeders: Install bird feeders in your garden to attract and nourish birds during the colder months. Birdwatching can become an enjoyable pastime as you observe feathered visitors in your snow-covered garden.
  • Provide Shelter: Consider adding birdhouses or nesting boxes to provide shelter for birds and other wildlife seeking refuge from the cold. These can be valuable resting sites in the spring, too.

Watering Before Snowfall

Proper watering is essential to help your garden survive the winter months. This may seem like an odd thing to do though, especially with the high levels of precipitation expected at this time.

What you need to remember is that moist soil retains more heat, which can help protect plant roots during cold spells.

Also, if the snowfall is really heavy and you’re unable to get to your plants to water them, this could cause issues that could have been avoided by maintaining a good level of moisture in the soil.

The Southwest London Gardener

Dealing with snow in a London garden requires a delicate balance of preparation, protection, and respect for nature’s rhythms.

By following these guidelines, you can create a winter wonderland that thrives and welcomes the beauty of snow while safeguarding your cherished plants and wildlife.

While you embrace the magic of winter, remember that your garden is a resilient and adaptable sanctuary that can flourish in every season.

If you want any advice on this or would like to discuss a project with our team, then contact us today and we will be happy to help.