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  • Writer's pictureThomas Greiman

Is your landscape ready for an El Nino Winter?

The first day of Fall arrived over the weekend last Saturday, Sep. 23. As Coloradans and Denverites embrace the spirit of autumn, complete with festivities and perhaps some spooky fun, it's a stark reminder that winter is fast approaching. This year, Colorado's winter might deviate from the norm due to the influence of El Nino. Consequently, both homes and businesses must take immediate measures to safeguard their landscapes, lawns, and irrigation systems. El Nino's wintry grasp is imminent, so the question looms: Is your landscape ready?

Understanding El Nino

Over the past year, we've witnessed significant shifts in our local weather patterns, deviating from the norms we've grown accustomed to over the past two to seven years. El Nino, a climate phenomenon characterized by elevated sea surface temperatures, exerts a substantial influence on global weather patterns, including those in Colorado. These new weather patterns often translate to heavier, wetter snowfall. While not every year delivers copious amounts of snow, historical data, and trends suggest that El Nino winter tend to bring enhanced snowfall. Snowfall can also occur earlier and more intensely than what residents are typically accustomed to, posing greater stress on landscapes, trees, plants, lawns, and sprinkler systems if not adequately protected.

Heavy Snowfall and Its Impact on Your Landscape

In recent years, La Nina has dominated winter weather across the United States. La Nina has often brought dry conditions to southern regions while blessing certain western states with much-needed snowfall. In contrast, El Nino's primary hallmark is the southward shift of the jet stream during the winter season. This shift typically results in increased precipitation and cooler temperatures in southern regions, while northern areas experience drier and warmer conditions, as reported by NOAA.

In practical terms, this means that your property's trees, plants, and landscapes are susceptible to rapid and heavy snowfall, potentially causing damage in various areas if you are not adequately prepared.

Preparing Your Landscape for Winter

There are numerous steps you can take to better prepare your home or business for the impending winter. Here are some essential considerations from Vista Landscape Developers to keep in mind:

Landscape Maintenance & Cleanup

Start by removing dead annuals and harvested vegetable plants. Clearing away these spent plants will prevent soil compaction and ensure proper snowmelt and drainage. Vigilantly address weed growth, as weeds can compete with your grass for nutrients, especially during cooler and drier seasons. Remove weeds before the first snowfall to maintain a healthy landscape.

Tree Maintenance and Pruning

Heavy snowfall can be hazardous for trees. Ensure that your trees are not overgrown and have been properly pruned to prevent limbs from breaking off or trees from toppling over, especially if they pose a threat to power lines or buildings. For young trees, consider reinforcing and winterizing them by wrapping supportive materials like plastic or mesh to protect against frost cracking. Staking supports can also help them withstand heavy winds and snow.

Winterize Your Irrigation System

Protect your irrigation system and sprinklers from freezing by scheduling a sprinkler blowout service or manually draining your system before the first snowfall. Frozen water in the lines can lead to costly repairs and replacements come spring. Homeowners may opt to try out more manual options in lieu of ordering a sprinkler blowout service. However, be sure to follow the proper protocols and methods as described by sprinkler manufacturers. Otherwise, there might be a costly repair in the near future.

Ongoing Winter Landscape Maintenance

Don't assume that your landscape is self-sufficient once the snow begins to accumulate. Proper landscape maintenance is crucial during wintertime. An El Nino winter can bring unexpected challenges, making early preparation essential.

Reach out to Vista Landscape Developers for more information on effective care and landscaping services as we approach the end of the season. Your landscape's well-being is our priority, especially during these potentially challenging weather conditions.

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