The good and bad of “no snow”.
Winter in the Upper Midwest is traditionally a snow-covered, white landscape. But, this year has not been friendly to that tradition. As you’ve noticed, we do not currently have any snow, snowmen, or frozen ponds to ice-skate on. While children may be disappointed, there are some advantages to our current condition (beyond just the warmer weather).
One potential positive is that the lack of snow cover can act as a moderate insect pest control. Snow and ice are insulators, so even if the air is, say -10 degrees F, the spaces beneath the snow pack will remain close to 32 degrees F. While some might think that the real cold weather kills off bugs, as a general rule, repeated wide swings in temperature, alternating warm and cold during winter months will have a more negative impact on insects.
Of course, pests have their place in nature. If you are like a few of us, you may not mind these occasional pests in the garden, as it can be a delight watching local Cardinal pairs picking cabbage worms off of broccoli and other leafy vegetables.
Another positive of “no-snow” is quite literally in front of your eyes. Take a warmer sunny day, pour yourself a hot tea or coffee, and take a stroll around your yard. Take a critical look at the visual needs of your landscape. The absence of snow and lack of foliage can bring awareness as well as access to areas normally obscured by wily summer growth. Now is a great time to begin visualizing and planning! Consider these architectural and design issues:
- Curves – Consider more dynamic borders (where your flower beds meet your lawn or walkway). You can construct a simple dug-out border, or use stone or other edging elements. These curvatures create movement, and can help to lead your eye towards focal points.
- Height – Midsize trees, shrubs, and even grasses can lend year-round height to any landscape.
- Color – Every season has its own color palette. Be aware that tree bark, grasses and fruit-bearing trees and shrubs can all add color—and especially stand out during the gloomy days of winter. Pick up a copy of the Jan/Feb issue of Fine Gardening in our White Shop for an article titled Bark with Bite that details some of the different suggestions for decorative barks.
- Structure – Elements such as stone walls, boulders, trees and shrubs can help give year-round structure to the garden. More specifically, evergreens can fill in visual gaps providing color, screening, and bird cover.
Remember, all good design starts with an accurate assessment. Take advantage of this warmer weather and start planning! If you are looking for suggestions on a small area of our garden, or are interested in a full outdoor makeover, we can guide you in that endeavor. We have the years of experience in designing and building landscapes, and satisfied home owners to prove it. Give us a call at 815.895.3737.