Winter Damage Assessment for your Landscape

Winter can be harsh on plants, lawns, and hardscapes such as patios and brickwork. Winter plant damage is also hard to remedy, but there are a few steps you can take to fix the landscape from damage caused by the colder season. Here’s what you need to know for a healthy garden.

Trees and Shrubs Winter Damage

Trees and shrubs are among the most damaged garden plants because they take the brunt of the weather. Too little sunlight and not enough water and winter animals can cause damage.

Broken limbs

Trees are strong and steady. But they can only take so much. The terrible conditions that come with winter weather can cause heavy damage. One of the worst is broken limbs. The weight of snow and pressure from heavy wind can cause branches to break and dangle as a hazard.

Frost burned evergreens

The whole point of evergreens is to stay green forever. But a harsh winter can cause damage that turns your evergreens brown. This happens due to frostbite and is expected for hemlock, pine, and juniper. A particularly harsh winter can also cause evergreens to be stripped bare.

Brown and black foliage

Foliage is highly susceptible to the harshness of winter. Winter causes foliage to die and appear brown or black. This is easy to spot among your shrubs, and most damaged leaves and flowers will fall away. However, some will remain, meaning your landscape appears more damaged.

Tree and shrub recovery in winter

Spotting the signs of tree and shrubbery damage is easy, and you can try a few things to fix it:

  • When it is safe, remove any dead branches from trees so they don’t present a hazard.
  • Trim back shrubbery branches to stimulate new growth for the warmer weather.
  • Strip back and prune evergreens to make way for new leaf growth the following season.

Acting upon the signs of winter plant damage helps fix the landscape from damage quickly.

Lawn Winter Damage

Everyone loves an emerald-green lawn. But winter has other ideas. If you aren’t careful or you don’t plan ahead, the cold season can ravage your lawn. Here are a few things to watch out for.

Disease from snow

Snow isn’t always guaranteed in winter, but it is more common. It can be delightful for families but a nightmare for the lawn. For instance, a sitting snowman can bring disease to a patch of the lawn because of the increased moisture and the blocking out of the sun for a long period.

Thinning from low light

Further to the sun, a lawn will suffer through a dull winter where there isn’t as much sunlight as we would like. When this happens, the lawn will begin to thin out in patchy areas. This will be more evident in areas where there is also more shade, such as under trees and shrubbery.

Water logging

Winters are typically cold and wet. Whether you get a lot of snow or lots of rain, either one is bad for your lawn. Water logging will literally drown the grass and prevent it from staying healthy. This is made worse if your lawn is heavily compacted or drainage quality is poor.

Lawn Recovery in Winter

It helps to wait until spring to fix the landscape from damage, but you can try doing these:

  • Try overseeding the lawn in patches where thinning is evident and in the shade.
  • Try to remove issues by cutting back shrubs, lowering fences, and draining correctly.
  • Lawns don’t last forever, so it might be time to consider a lawn replacement.

There’s a lot of work that goes into lawn care, but it’s easier once you get the hang of it.

Hardscape Damage in Winter

Winter plant damage is bad. But winter also causes damage to hardscapes. This includes patios, driveways, and brickwork, all of which need proper care and maintenance in winter.

Moisture expansion and contraction

Moisture is harmful for hardscapes because it gets inside the tiniest of cracks. Throughout winter, any moisture will expand and contract. This causes cracks to become larger over time. But humidity also makes hard surfaces like patios slippery, causing a potential health hazard.

Breaks and crumbles from freezing

Cracks are common in hardscapes and are hard to avoid. However, a telltale sign that a crack might be getting too large and potentially dangerous is crumbling materials. This can lead to ice and moisture becoming too heavy for a material, leading to eventual collapse and breakages.

Increased substance growth

Mold is a common issue in homes and can be the cause of illnesses. But what about outside? Mold and other substances can grow in a moist environment, like the one inside the cracks and gaps of your hardscapes. Excess mold leads to an unstable surface and poses a hazard.

Hardscape Recovery in Winter

Hardscapes need just as much TLC as the plants and lawns in your garden, so try these tricks:

  • Decrease water runoff by ensuring gutters and drainage systems are unblocked.
  • Carefully check for cracks when it is dry and fill them in with concrete and sealant.
  • Store away any yard and garden ornaments, such as statues and fountains.

These preventative steps will help reduce the effects of winter on your hardscape materials.


Trees, lawns, and hardscapes can experience winter plant damage caused mainly by the change in weather. Spotting early signs of damage and acting quickly will always help.