Bird feeders, especially those made of wood, need to be cleaned at least once during the winter feeding season; monthly is better. Scrub the feeder, inside and outside, with ten parts water mixed with one part household bleach. Make sure the feeder is thoroughly dry before setting it outside.
There is a lot of winter still ahead . Here are some tips for avoiding damage to your plants.
When lawn grass is living in frozen soil with no snow cover, it’s very vulnerable to serious damage when repeatedly walked upon. When the mailman cuts across the lawn over the same path each day to get from door to door or when your child frequently cuts across the back yard to a best friend’s house using the same route, those areas are likely to be dead come spring thaw. Winter is the time to stick to the sidewalks.
Most yardeners know that salt and living plants do not mix. If your township uses rock salt on the streets to cope with ice problems, the plants along the edge of the street are always going to be in stress come spring. Fortunately, most communities are using salt substitutes on the streets to avoid plant damage, damage to car bodies, and damage to the streets themselves. There are a number of salt substitutes available at home centers, hardware stores, and grocery stores. They will cost more than salt, but will de-ice twice the area normally controlled by salt. While salt substitutes will not be harmful to plants and will not corrode car bodies, they can be harmful to rugs and certain tiles used indoors. Taking shoes off just inside the front door solves that problem.
Shrubs Under Roof
If you have shrubs growing around the house where snow sometimes accumulates by falling off the roof, you may want to give those shrubs some extra protection to avoid branches being broken by that falling snow. Small compact evergreens usually need no protection, but deciduous shrubs over three feet tall are in danger of some damage. Some folks rig sheets of outdoor plywood connected by hinges and positioned over the shrub.
Heavy Snow On Evergreens
What do you do when there has been a heavy snow storm, and the branches of your evergreen trees and shrubs are weighed down with piles of snow? It is a good idea to remove the snow from the lower b ranches, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do that job. Do not brush the snow in a downward motion! Those branches may be very close to the breaking point from the weight of the snow and your trying to remove the snow with a downward motion might be all it takes to break that branch. Always remove snow from evergreen boughs in an upward motion.
Ice On Trees And Shrubs
Last year we had a spectacular ice storm. When the sun was just right, the trees and shrubs looked like a fairyland of sparkles. If we have an ice storm this year and you are inclined to ease the weight of that ice on your trees and shrubs, avoid that urge. Never try to remove ice from branches no matter how loaded down they look. You will always damage your trees and shrubs. You must be patient and let Mother Nature melt that ice.
Ice Dams On Roof Edge
Snow accumulated on a roof may begin to melt at the roof’s surface and that water can refreeze at the roof’s edge creating what is called an “ice dam”. This is a bad thing. If water begins to build up behind the ice dam, it often works it’s way under the shingles and ends up inside the house. This happened to us two years ago. There is a tool available at home centers and hardware stores designed to remove six to ten feet of snow from above the edge of the roof. Called a roof rake (about $40), it is a rectangular piece of aluminum on the end of a fifteen foot pole. If you remove the snow from the edge of the roof you likely to avoid problems with ice dams.