Certain types of injury are inflicted by human beings during wintertime landscape maintenance. Some types of injury result from carelessness on the part of groundkeepers. Other types are the predictable result of poor landscape design. A large number occur because the landscape elements are hidden beneath piles of snow.
figure 11-20. Falling ice can split and break shrubs planted beneath the overhang of a roof. (Delmar/ Cengage Learning)
Damage from salt Salt is toxic to nearly all plant life. When salt is applied to melt winter ice, it can harm trees, shrubs, bulbs, and lawns as well as paving. Often the damage does not appear until long after the winter season has passed and the cause of the injury may go undiagnosed. The injury may appear as strips of sterile, barren soil paralleling walks where salt was applied. Burn injury also can be seen on the lower branches of evergreens. Some sensitive plants weaken and die after several winters of excessive salt runoff.
Damage from snowplows Snowplows can damage plant and construction materials in several ways. A plow operator may be careless or unfamiliar with the landscape and push snow onto a planting or a bench. On the other hand, poor design may have placed plants and other vulnerable elements too close to walks, parking areas, or streets where they interfere with winter snow removal. Damage to lawns can result when the plow misses the walk and actually plows the grass. The turf may not survive if this occurs repeatedly.
Rutting of lawns When the surface layer of the soil thaws but the subsoil remains frozen, surface water is unable to soak in. Users of the landscape accustomed to finding the ground firm may be unaware of the damage they cause by parking their vehicles on temporarily soft lawns. The soil can become badly compacted, resulting in unsightly ruts.