There's so much more to a great yard than just mowing the lawn.

More Snow? Seriously?

More snow May 1, 2013

Pinyon pine with snow, May 1, 2013

It’s May first. The lawns and gardens are covered with snow. Are you wondering what the late spring snow means for our landscape plants? Here are some of the possible effects snows and cold temperatures might have on our trees, shrubs, lawns and flowers:

Green grass

For those of you who live in the Denver area, the lawns are incredibly green this spring. The moisture from the snow has helped lawns emerge from dormancy beautifully.

There’s no better miracle product out there to create grass green and diminish brown spots than moisture from rain and snow. Let’s all hope for continued regular precipitation throughout the summer.

Delayed growth

The cool spring temperatures have delayed spring emergence for many plants. Some plants are still totally dormant, while others have greened up already, but have stayed smaller than normal.

If you’re worried that some of your landscape plants are dead because they haven’t leafed out yet, give them some extra time this year before you make any final decisions to remove them. Once the soil warms up, they’re likely to come out of dormancy like they normally would. The smart ones are still waiting out the uncertain weather.

Extended our water supplies

Because the low night temperatures have continued to dip below freezing, many Front Range residents have not turned on their sprinkler systems yet. This is the best news for communities in mandatory outdoor watering restrictions.

Because we have delayed watering our landscapes, the water we do have in the reservoirs can be stretched farther. We have a better cushion, so to speak. The cool spring means most communities will not have to go into more strict restrictions this summer.

Late Start for Vegetable Gardens

If you’re a vegetable gardener, you might be getting a little annoyed by now. If you’ve started transplants from seed this year inside your home, they might be outgrowing their pots and growing space.

Go ahead and plant any cool season vegetable seeds as soon as we get a nice day (peas, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, cilantro, carrots, beets, etc.). Most of these vegetables will be perfectly fine even if we get more spring snow. They can tolerate cold temperatures.

Wait to plant any warm season vegetables (tomatoes, corn, squash, beans, etc.) or any type of transplants unless you have a way to protect them from cold.

Frost-damaged flower buds

After a long winter, nothing is more pleasing to the eye than crabapple trees, ornamental pear trees, or daffodil flowers in full bloom. Don’t hold your breath this year. It’s possible the flower buds of many early-flowering plants have been killed by the intermittent cold temperatures.

The bad news is we may be in for a less-than-spectacular spring bloom. The good news is dead flower buds don’t have any long-term negative impacts on most plants. We’ll miss it, but we don’t need to worry about it.

We won’t get many spring flowers this year, but you don’t need to take any special actions to help your plants. If the weather cooperates next spring, spring-blooming plants should flower normally.

Frost-damaged leaves

Many deciduous trees and shrubs had just begun to leaf out the past two weeks. When it’s gotten cold at night, the freezing temperatures may have killed newly emerging leaves. You may notice the new little leaves turn black and shrivel up eventually.

After a few weeks, most trees and shrubs will produce a second set of leaves to replace the set they’ve lost. Some trees and shrubs can handle refoliating perfectly fine, while you may notice other have a not-so-great set of leaves all summer.

Producing a second set of leaves takes a lot of energy for a tree, so make sure you give them a little extra hand watering if your community will allow it. Don’t fertilize them to try to make up for the loss. Over fertilizing can cause trees to grow too much in spring, which produces too much tender, succulent growth.

Sprinkler damage

If you’ve started to water your landscape, the cold overnight low temperatures can cause freeze damage in your sprinkler system or spigots. If you’re still watering with a hose, be sure to disconnect your hose from the spigot after you’re done watering.

It’s also worthwhile to drain your backflow preventer (vacuum breaker) if you’ve already turned on your sprinkler system. Taking a few extra precautions can prevent expensive repairs in the future.

Embrace Colorado’s wacky weather

If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that we cannot count on Colorado’s weather As the old saying goes, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.. Let’s enjoy the moisture while it lasts, then welcome summer when it arrives. It’s right around the corner. Meanwhile, I’m dreaming of a white Mother’s Day.


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